This is a critical time for the children’s voluntary and community sector. Services are being closed or significantly re-organised to minimise contact with families, staff are being furloughed and face to face fundraising activities have been suspended. And yet, while many charities are seeing a significant fall in their income and reduction in their staff capacity, the needs of children and families are growing, and becoming more difficult to recognise. Most children are now at home rather than school, many looked after by parents whose income has dropped, without the support of a children’s centre, food bank or visit from a support worker that would previously have helped them through tough times. The economic strain, and the stress of social isolation, could push families into crises that damage children’s wellbeing in the long-term, as IPPR’s report this week warns.
It’s almost unthinkable that whilst children are facing one of the biggest challenges of their life so far, many of the charities trying to help them are facing closure. It’s also unthinkable that, when the effects of the pandemic itself are over, swathes of our brilliant sector might not have survived to nurture children and communities back to full strength.
The government has included voluntary sector employers in its guarantee of 80% of the wages of any furloughed staff, but has not offered any support for charities to continue paying staff who must carry on working – and whose work is so vital right now. With the voluntary sector expecting to lose 48% of its income – a total of £4 billion across the sector – both organisations continuing to operate and those temporarily suspending services need urgent financial aid to avoid closure.
Voluntary sector infrastructure bodies are campaigning hard for a package of support from the government, but despite calls from councils, Select Committees, mainstream media and over 300 MPs and Lords, government itself has not confirmed any assistance.
More information about Every Day Counts: https://www.cfg.org.uk/EveryDayCountsAction