Column: support for charities

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 1st May:

Our community is full of kind and generous people who are working around the clock to protect our health, deliver vital services and keep the local economy going. From the amazing frontline NHS staff and care workers, who are putting the health of strangers ahead of their own, to the key workers who are collecting our bins, delivering food and keeping our streets safe- there are so many people to be proud of.

This pandemic has highlighted how reliant we are on the voluntary and social sectors. Barnsley Food Bank has continued to provide a source of crisis food to people in need and Barnsley Age UK is helping elderly people maintain their dignity by providing tailored support. The domestic abuse charity IDAS has extended its live chat services to help those who are currently facing controlling or abusive behaviour from a partner or family member during the lock-down. The professionalism and dedication of those who work or volunteer within the social sector has been incredible.

Whilst demand has increased due to the impact of Covid-19, the capacity for charities to raise funds so they can continue to provide these essential services has fallen. Charities from across the UK are at risk of collapse due to the impact of coronavirus. Many simply do not have the reserves to maintain the support they used to offer as charity shops have had to close and fundraising events have been cancelled. The London Marathon, which I ran last year for BSARCS, has been postponed until October. This single event raises tens of millions of pounds for charities every year. Without the ability to fundraise charities are struggling to stay afloat. They urgently need financial support to get through this crisis.

Whilst I welcomed the Government’s announcement of a £750 million package of support for frontline charities this month, it is clear more needs to be done if they are to survive this pandemic. Voluntary organisations are reporting a £4.2 billion shortfall over the next twelve weeks as donations have fallen due to Covid-19. So many people in our community rely on services provided by charitable organisations, from food and medicine deliveries, to advice services. I will keep pushing to get them the financial support they need to continue helping vulnerable people from our area.

Anything you can spare during these difficult times, from volunteering your free time with Barnsley Council’s Community Responder Scheme to donating unwanted food to the local food bank will make a big difference. Thank you.

My constituency office remains open to help all those who need assistance. Please call  01226 743 483 or email stephanie.peacock.mp@parliament.uk.