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‘We can’t do any fundraising’: Charities appeal for help to get through coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 06:03 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 08:48 27 March 2020

Age UK Norfolk is expanding its befriending service where it calls older people who might be lonely. It is looking for volunteers. Picture: AGE UK NORFOLK

Age UK Norfolk is expanding its befriending service where it calls older people who might be lonely. It is looking for volunteers. Picture: AGE UK NORFOLK

AGE UK NORFOLK

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on charities, leaving them unable to fundraise or work as normal.

Hillside Animal Sanctuary has stopped its open days which it relied on for funds. Photo: Hillside Animal SanctuaryHillside Animal Sanctuary has stopped its open days which it relied on for funds. Photo: Hillside Animal Sanctuary

Just a quarter of smaller charities have reserves to fall back on in times of crisis, according to the Centre for Social Justice.

The think-tank warned last week that many organisations society relies on may not survive the coronavirus crisis.

Norfolk Accident and Rescue Service (NARS), which supports the ambulance service to attend emergencies, said donations had completely dried up.

Chairman and critical care paramedic Chris Neil warned the charity only had enough money to run a skeleton team for less than six months, after which it would have to stop.

Norfolk Accident Rescue Service (NARS) has said donations have completely dried up putting its future in doubt. Picture: NARSNorfolk Accident Rescue Service (NARS) has said donations have completely dried up putting its future in doubt. Picture: NARS

Age UK Norfolk said coronavirus was having a huge impact on its finances but its services were needed more than ever.

Chief executive Hilary MacDonald said it was expanding its telephone befriending scheme where volunteers called older people who might be lonely.

“There are so many older people who suffer from loneliness and at a time like this it hugely important that we scale up our service.”

Anyone who can volunteer or needs help should call Age UK Norfolk on 01603 785223.

The Big C is adapting by launching support packs, online and phone services to support people living with cancer during coronavirus. Picture: Big CThe Big C is adapting by launching support packs, online and phone services to support people living with cancer during coronavirus. Picture: Big C

East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) said income from its charity shops had dropped from £100,000 a week to nothing.

“The Covid-19 outbreak is hitting our finances hard and we need financial support now more than ever before,” it pleaded on Facebook.

“We will continue offering end-of-life care and bereavement support, and respond to urgent requests for care and support as best we can.”

At Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Frettenham founder Wendy Valentine said: “It is a very worrying time. We have stopped our open days which we relied on. We have some money but we are quite hand to mouth and we rely on seasonal donations.

“Our main concern is that our staff are able to continue looking after the animals.”

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PACT animal sanctuary, based at Hingham, said donations were down by a half, while all 15 of its shops had shut.

Chief executive George Rockingham said income had been cut by more than £30,000 a month, with wages alone for the 42 staff costing £50,000 a month.

Big C CEO Dr Chris Bushby said income from events and shops had collapsed. Picture: Julian ClaxtonBig C CEO Dr Chris Bushby said income from events and shops had collapsed. Picture: Julian Claxton

Charities can apply to the Government’s furlough scheme which covers 80pc of staff wages providing they do not work. Staff would effectively be mothballed but not laid off.But Mr Rockingham said he had to keep staff working to look after the 1,600 animals.

Dr Chris Bushby Chief executive of Norfolk’s cancer charity, the Big C, also said income had collapsed during the crisis, with all fundraising events cancelled.

“We had a good start to the year with events and retail but that has now dropped off a cliff,” he said.

But he added the charity had strong reserves to see it through long term and the furlough scheme was being used to support its retail staff.

East Anglia's Children's Hospices said income was down a £100,000 a week from its shops.

PHOTO: Nick ButcherEast Anglia's Children's Hospices said income was down a £100,000 a week from its shops. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

It has closed its contact centres but is still offering support over the phone.

The St Edmunds Society, which trains young people in Norwich with practical skills, was facing money problems before coronavirus hit. Trustee Alan Bliss said it would temporarily shut its centre on Oak Street this week.

“This will hit us hard, even 
with the 80pc of wages being paid,” he said. “We cannot do 
our vocational training so the 
kids cannot finish their courses which means we will not get 
paid. We have to raise money to do this anyway but can not do any fundraising at the moment.

“Charities have spent the last 10 years plugging holes in society and this will tip some over the edge.”

Chief executive Hilary MacDonald speaking at the Age UK Norfolk AGM.  Photo: Bill SmithChief executive Hilary MacDonald speaking at the Age UK Norfolk AGM. Photo: Bill Smith

Marie Curie, meanwhile, has stopped all its collections. It runs the Great Daffodil Appeal in March, handing out daffodil pins in exchange for donations but that has been cancelled.

Rebecca White, founder of Norwich social enterprise Your Own Place, which helps train and advise young people, said the whole sector had to find ways to adapt to survive.

With its face-to-face training on hold, it is sending out messages of support to young people on social media.

“People are more vulnerable 
to exploitation during this,” 
Ms White said. “There are people terrified of losing their jobs 
and not being able to pay the rent or cannot afford online deliveries.”

To volunteer visit www.voluntarynorfolk.org.uk

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