Charities innovating in a crisis

Laura Ross
Marketing Executive - Membership
20th April 2020

Charities are coming together, adapting usual ways of working and creating a positive wave to keep on providing help and support to those who need it most.

The charitable sector in the UK makes up an annual income of £70 billion pounds and consist of over 170,00 charitable organisations, according to latest 2018 government research. 

On 8th April Rishi Sunak announced a £750 million package of support for frontline charities including hospices and domestic abuse charities (see breakdown below). 

A number of our Chamber member charities in Bristol, Bath, Gloucestershire & Wiltshire have been in touch with us, telling us how they are struggling, what they are doing to adapt and succeed in providing much needed services to vulnerable people across the West of England.

How local charities are adapting to coronavirus

The impact of coronavirus on the charity sector is immense. Every different charity is being affected in varying ways. 

For frontline charities providing food and healthcare to vulnerable people, they are busier than ever. 

Other charities are facing huge challenges to stay open and struggling to function. Many have been forced to close their high street stores and cancel fundraising events. 

Every individual charity has a different story to tell but each is having to adapt to this current crisis. Many are running essential services only. Some have come up with new ways of working. A number have had to rely on emergency appeals in response to the Covid-19 emergency.

What is clear is that communities, charities, individuals and volunteers are coming together in a way that has never been seen before. It’s an ‘all hands on deck’ scenario and this community spirit is spreading positivity across the region in the fight against this invisible killer. 

These unsung heroes are fighting coronavirus in our hospices, children’s charities, women’s refuges, homeless charities, foodbanks, our homes and more. They unite in their togetherness, their hope and their determination to keep calm and carry on. I take my hat off to them.

How can business help?

There are a number of urgent appeals from charities, asking for donations to help to keep their core charitable activities and services afloat, to enable themto run skeleton services such as helplines. We are encouraging people to support Quartet who are passing money on to smaller local charities, who are particularly struggling at this time.

Or, if you prefer to help an individual charity directly, the small ones are particularly struggling. Choose a charity which resonates with your purpose, brand or staff.

Another option is for businesses to encourage furloughed staff to volunteer with their local charities and get involved in community activity where possible. Voscur is a great place to start if you are looking for volunteer opportunities at this time. 

Many individuals are working to support the need for PPE by sewing from home, making face masks and clothes bags for NHS staff. Countless businesses are changing their models to create essential equipment too.

For staff who are still working, many companies, including here at Business West, have a volunteer scheme where staff can be encouraged to take up one or all of the volunteer days appointed for this.

Some of our member Charities innovating in the West in response to COVID-19

Quartet Community Foundation is a member of the Business West Chambers & Initiative and is a registered charity (1080418) with over 30 years' experience in connecting people who care with local causes that matter. 

They have teamed up with the Bristol Post to help raise vital funds for people and charitable groups in need during the coronavirus crisis. Donations will be distributed to local charitable causes that are making sure our children have good food to eat and our pensioners are not neglected. 

Money raised will help causes like the debt advice charity that needs an extra caseworker to cope with the flood of people seeking support to get through the weeks to come with no income and no idea how to claim Government support.

#ArmsAroundBristol campaign is over 1/2 way to the £10k target. Please help to support vulnerable Bristolians by donating whatever you can – however big or small – to the Arms Around Bristol Appeal

FareShare South West distributes food to homeless charities, women's refuges, food parcel delivery projects to the elderly, schools food banks and more. Due to high demand, they have overhauled operations, changed processes and opened a second warehouse. 

Their operations have adapted in various ways as a result of the pandemic - from changing their volunteer demographic to rigorous new cleaning regimes. They have been inundated with applications for volunteer positions by people who have been furloughed.

Phoebe Ruxton, Head of Development, FareShare South West said:

“We are committed to being part of the solution, not only maintaining our current work of supporting food for over 140,000 meals every month to the most vulnerable, but also expanding our operation to distribute food to pop-up emergency projects”.

You can donate to the FareShare Emergency Appeal.

Food companies - If you have in-date, surplus food available to redistribute in wholesale quantities, please contact Operations Manager Charlie Mason:

The Jessie May Children’s Hospice at Home charity have been forced to cancel regular planned respite visits for children at the end of life. They have teamed up with Lifetime Service and Children’s Hospice South West to offer a dedicated phone service offering 24/7 access to advice and support from a nurse with hospice/community care experience. 

ERIC who provide support to children with bowel and bladder problems are trying to raise £7,500 to keep their helpline running to support families during this crisis. Faced with reduced income they’ve been forced to furlough the majority of their staff. 

Dorothy House Hospice are now only running essential services such as providing care in the community and using technology to support patients. They have cancelled group activities and therapies and they are not accepting any visitors within their inpatient units.

Housewall Disabled Children Holiday Fund who organise ‘Limitless Travel’, a disabled friendly and accessible holidays have been hard hit. They are allowing all customers to reschedule their holidays and are organising a programme of activities to offer support and to make sure disabled people facing 12 weeks of isolation are not alone.  

Young Bristol who offer opportunities for all young people have been diversifying how they engage with young people online and have been distributing sports, creative and educational packs plus Easter eggs to families across Bristol who access local youth clubs. 

Key 4 Life who work to help rehabilitate young men who have either been in prison, or are at risk of going to prison have now adapted their activities and are providing online support via mentors and companies who help to ride the waves at this difficult time.

St John Ambulance are playing a vital role in responding to the needs of communities across the nation. Volunteers are helping in NHS Nightingale Hospitals and emergency departments. Volunteer ambulance crews are also working 24/7 to support 999 call outs and transporting recovered patients home. They have ceased public training courses, first aid event cover, face-to-face fundraising & youth units. 

Variety – the Children’s Charity, supports children and young people who are sick, disabled or disadvantaged. They face a 50% reduction in fundraising income this year and have furloughed half of employees. They are supporting families with sensory kits to help parents engage with their disabled child. This small charity is in dire need for donations.

Other charity Chamber members are listed here – they have also been severely impacted by coronavirus restrictions and managing day to day operations: Asdan, City of Bristol brass band, Creative youth network, Dogs for good, Alive and Freedom.

Financial Aid for Charities explained

On the 8th April, the government announced a £750 million package of support for frontline charities

How is this broken down?

• £360 million will be directly allocated by government departments to charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people during the crisis.

• £370 million for small and medium-sized charities will support those organisations at the heart of local communities which are making a big difference during the outbreak, including those delivering food, essential medicines and providing financial advice.

• The Government will match fund whatever the public decides to donate to the BBC’s Big Night In charity appeal on 23 April, starting with a contribution of at least £20 million to the National Emergencies Trust appeal.

• Tens of thousands of charities providing vital services will benefit from direct cash grants to ensure they can meet increased demand as a result of the virus as well as continuing their day-to-day activities supporting those in need.

• Charities can also gain support through deferring their VAT bills, paying no business rates for their shops next year, and furloughing staff where possible with the Government paying 80% of their wages.

Read more here

Don’t forget to show your support

To find out more about how you can donate today, click on the individual Charity links above.

Please get in touch if the West of England Initiative and Business West Chambers of Commerce can help – we can offer support, advice, share your stories or help you to connect with other businesses. You can also access critical information and raise a question through our dedicated Trading through Coronavirus hub.



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