Risk to crucial services being lost in Buckinghamshire as charities under immense pressure during pandemic

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Fears that people in need will be unable to find support in Buckinghamshire are mounting as more charity and voluntary organisations face substantial funding losses.

The coronavirus crisis has led to massive drops in fundraising income for charity and voluntary organisations, with many now having to make hard decisions about whether they can continue to operate.

In Buckinghamshire, many services supplied by voluntary organisations are under threat – not just now but also post the pandemic. Feedback from a range of Bucks’ voluntary organisations show that despite having taken the necessary measures, e.g. closing services, remote delivery and furloughing, finances are still tight: one charity has stated it has lost three-quarters of its income due to the pandemic and may not survive.

An example of how this affects services used by the community is Lindengate Mental Health Charity which provides nature based activities to support people’s wellbeing at its five acre therapeutic garden outside Wendover.

  • The charity has closed the site, furloughed staff and employs only a skeleton team to maintain the site which will also provide food to vulnerable people in the community come harvesting time.
  • Lindengate expects the need for people with low to medium mental health needs to increase vastly during the pandemic, resulting in a high demand on its services when it re-opens.
  • Reserves are being used to cover current running costs and the charity has applied for emergency funding to limit the long-term impact on the charity’s finances.
  • When able to open again, it will take around three months to get back to previous income levels as all clients will have to be re-assessed.
  • Unable to offer alternative services to its clients, it is using social media to share tips and messages about wellbeing and launch its funding appeal.

Community Impact Bucks provides support to charities and voluntary groups operating in Buckinghamshire, providing advice and guidance through dedicated COVID-19 webpages and on a one-to-one basis.

“So many people in Buckinghamshire are thankful for the support they receive from local groups. The organisations we work with provide practical help, advice and, in many cases, the only social contact people have,” said Community Impact Bucks’ Chief Executive Katie Higginson.

“We are all focussing on tackling the coronavirus outbreak but the problems charities are there to address – poverty, long-term health conditions, disability, mental ill-health, domestic abuse, loneliness and a whole range of issues – are still there as well. Charities in Bucks are keen to do everything they can to help in the current crisis and to continue to support the people who they work with, but many are now having to make hard decisions about their future.”

To fight for the survival of the voluntary sector in the county, Community Impact Bucks is taking part in the #EveryDayCounts campaign, asking Government and local MPs for help.

So far the Government has only hinted that a package of support for the charity sector might eventually be available and Community Impact Bucks is asking local residents to take action and contact their local MPs to save local charities:  “We hope people from across the local area will contact their MP to tell them about how charities have helped them and asking the Government for urgent support.”

People can find their local MP’s contact details at www.writetothem.com or look for them on Twitter and use #EveryDayCounts.

Nationally, there have been reports that some household name charities are on the edge of collapse. St John Ambulance, which is at the forefront of the response to the coronavirus outbreak, has said that they will run out of cash reserves in August. Barnado’s, Britain’s biggest children’s charity, has already seen its fundraising income drop by over 30%. Major fundraising events such as the London Marathon have been cancelled and the closure of numerous charity shops has also had a devastating effect on charity income.

ENDS

For any media enquiries or interviews, please contact Rachel Fisher

E: rachel@communityimpactbucks.org.uk

T: 01844 617216

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