Leaders and supporters from across the charity sector have put their names to an open letter to the Prime Minister urgently calling for the creation of an Emergency Support Fund so charities can meet the rising demand for their support right now and ensure they can play a key role in helping communities and causes recover once the COVID crisis starts to recede. The letter has been signed by leaders of some of the UK’s most high profile charities and foundations.

The letter comes as charities respond to growing need for their services while wrestling with an estimated £10bn funding gap caused by the pandemic. Many organisations are already spending their reserves, making redundancies and having to scale back or even close services.

The letter highlights just a few examples of the difference charities are making right now despite all the challenges they face but warns that without an Emergency Support Fund, that support will be cut back or even disappear altogether, leaving them unable to respond to the needs of the most disadvantaged in our communities.

Michelle O’Rourke is CEO of My Sisters Place, an independent specialist domestic abuse service for women based in Middlesbrough. She reflected on the challenge and why charities need this fund:

“We have real concerns about the demands on domestic abuse services following this pandemic and the sector’s ability to keep responding to and meeting the needs of women and children experiencing abuse.  We can’t keep filling gaps and maintaining the work to the level we have been without some investment of resources. It’s that longevity – you need to be able to plan as a charity for twelve months and beyond. 

We would never in a normal year plan for anything that was less than twelve months. This is a pandemic and I think charities have adapted but actually going beyond that it’s not sustainable for any charity; definitely not when you’re working with vulnerable people.”

Supporters believe the Emergency Support Fund is needed to quickly get vital funding out to charities who are struggling to meet increasing demand and haven’t been reached by the funding and support that is currently available, and to help charities be in a position to provide the help communities when the start to try and recover from the COVID crisis.

As well as the open letter, charity supporters are taking to social today to post messages about what charities are doing to make a difference during the pandemic using the hashtag #RightNow, to highlight the breadth, depth and impact of the charity sector and add their voices to the call for more government support.

The open letter and social media campaign are the latest elements of the #NeverMoreNeeded campaign, a collaborative cross sector initiative to secure more government backing so charities can provide the essential support needed during the crisis and beyond.

Support the campaign!

You can add your name to the open letter and share the campaign on social media. More information and resources can be found here

Below is the full text of the open letter and here is a link to a list of all the signatories:

Dear Prime Minister

Right now, food banks are giving out 2,600 parcels to children every day.

Right now, helplines are answering thousands of calls from people dealing with everything from domestic abuse to bereavement and mental health issues.

Right now, millions of people around the country are generously responding to fundraising asks from causes they care about.

Right now, volunteers in every community are supporting those shielding at home and over 50,000 are helping to vaccinate those most at risk from COVID.

Right now, millions of people and thousands of charities are doing everything they can to tackle the urgent problems we face. At the same time, those same organisations are looking to the future and trying to ensure they can continue to be there in the tough years of recovery ahead.

They are stepping up because the need has never been greater, but they are doing so while staring at an estimated £10bn hole in their income. Right now, many charities are eating into their reserves, selling whatever assets they have and making staff redundant.

That means tomorrow they won’t be able to fund life-saving research, feed struggling families, bring hope to people most at risk isolating at home, tackle existing inequalities made worse by this pandemic. People and communities will go without vital support.

Charities make our communities stronger. In the toughest times, they  provide support no-one else can.

The public are giving their time and money and companies, trusts and foundations have stepped up their support. We are hugely grateful that your government has helped to keep emergency charity services running – but resources are running dangerously low and services are getting stretched to breaking point.

We are asking you to set up an Emergency Support Fund right now, so the burden of this pandemic doesn’t fall on the shoulders of those who are most disadvantaged.

With that fund, more people can receive the help they desperately need, and more charities can deliver vital services to help our communities recover from this crisis. Without it, many in those communities face a bleak future.