The impact of a second lockdown

Charities and volunteers are crucial to helping people through crises such as covid-19, and they also underpin so much of community life in the UK and bring people together.

The announcement of a second lockdown has huge ramifications for the country at large, but especially for those that are more vulnerable to virus, or more impacted by economic uncertainty or systemic oppression. The consequences for the voluntary sector are unprecedented. Organisations are yet again having to marshal their staff and volunteers to provide much needed support at the same time as taking another big financial hit in an already difficult year.

The temporary extension of the furlough scheme will provide short-term relief for some. However, it is simply not in the country’s best interests to scale down the support that charities can offer.

I know that so many colleagues across the voluntary sector stand ready to help people through the next difficult period – indeed, many charities and volunteers are still in crisis mode responding to the impacts of the first wave of covid-19. As the long-admired Dame Louise Casey has argued:

The government needs to heed the mood of the country and take action now. Kids should not go hungry, people should not be on the streets and the elderly deserve only the best of care that we can give.

Charities are constantly thinking about better and more innovative ways to help people, but as we come into winter, financial reserves are dwindling. Continuing to provide vital support to people and communities at scale is simply not possible without additional financial support.

Alongside other infrastructure bodies in the voluntary sector, we are urgently examining the detail of these restrictions and measures over the coming days. We will step up our campaigning to call for funding that will enable charities and community groups to support those most in need during the second and subsequent lockdowns and during the recovery phase.

The combination of lost income and increased demand amounts to an estimated funding gap of £10bn across the sector over six months. This has left charities much less able to respond to continuing increases in demand. New research published only last week shows that even before this lockdown was announced there was likely to be a significant decrease in both the number of charities and the capacity of charities that remain. 10% of charities say they are likely to close, and 80% predict a negative impact on delivering their planned objectives.

What can charities do during lockdown?

We await more detailed guidance on what the lockdown means for charities. NCVO will continue to update our popular coronavirus guidance pages over the next period so that you can be certain not to miss an important update. So far we understand that charities running support groups can continue. Importantly, the guidance explicitly states that buildings can be used for organising voluntary activity, such as foodbanks.

More here:

Volunteering where it is safe to do so

We’ve had early sight of some of the guidance being planned around volunteering. We have issued a joint statement in response. In short, where possible, people should volunteer from home. If they cannot do so, they can volunteer outside their home if they follow the social distancing guidance and no one in their household has symptoms of coronavirus or has tested positive for coronavirus.

Voluntary and charitable activities are exempt from a number of the new restrictions. This means that, where volunteers are able to volunteer outside their home they can: meet in groups of any size indoors or outdoors while volunteering, travel to volunteer or while volunteering.

Making our voices heard

Earlier this week the prime minister committed to doing ‘much more over the winter to support the voluntary sector’ and we are urging MPs to ask the prime minister and the chancellor to consider an emergency support package for charities as part of the forthcoming spending review.

If your organisation is facing financial difficulties because of covid-19, make sure to get in touch with your MP ahead of the spending review on 25 November (this is particularly helpful if they are Conservative MPs) with a short note explaining the impact of covid-19 on your work and what will mean for your ability to help people through the next few difficult months and to bring people together as we seek to recover from this unprecedented national crisis.

 

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