The Coronavirus pandemic has seen our everyday lives change in an unprecedented way – in the UK we are in our seventh week of lockdown, and similar restrictions are in place globally. As a result, businesses and organisations across the world have been forced to change the way they operate – and charities have been leading the charge, adapting their services so they can continue to offer vital support and resources, as demand for their services rises during this difficult time.
But the COVID-19 outbreak has not just been a testing time for charities in terms of their visibility, it’s also proved a huge challenge for raising vital funds. Many of these funds usually come from spring/summer campaigns and events, which have understandably been cancelled or postponed – for example, did you know that last year’s London Marathon raised over £66 million for charity?
But how are charities rising to this challenge? In our latest blog, nine of our amazing charities tell us about how they are doing just that – from moving their services into the digital sphere, to their new innovative fundraising campaigns. As always, we’re in complete awe!
With many of us turning to online platforms for entertainment and information during the lockdown, lots of charities are responding with virtual events and activities. Marie Curie is running a ‘Blooming Virtual Tea Party’ as a way to support the charity in this difficult period, saying: “It is perfect for anyone who wants to stay in contact with loved ones in a fun and responsible way, whilst continuing to help Marie Curie by fundraising.”
We love the idea of holding these traditional tea parties with friends and family via webcam, and Marie Curie also says there’s plenty of scope for other activities during the party, including bake-a-longs and decorating competitions. Fundraising can be done through JustGiving, and hosts can sign-up now.
We think it’s a “blooming” great idea! And look out for some upcoming Marie Curie Quiz Nights, with celebrity ambassadors acting as quiz masters!
Surfers Against Sewage
As well as introducing new virtual events, many charities are looking to adapt their existing initiatives. Surfers Against Sewage’s award-winning #ReturnToOffender campaign has “gone digital”, with the new online twist on the beach clean campaign encouraging ocean activists to get involved nationwide.
The public will be asked to “See it, Snap it, Share it” – to document branded plastic pollution during their permitted daily outdoor exercise. The images will then be uploaded onto social media, tagging brands and urging manufacturers not to abandon action on the plastic pollution crisis. Running until 22nd May 2020, find out more about the campaign here.
The Listening Place
In a time of such uncertainty and worry, it is perhaps more important than ever that we look after our mental health. Mental health charities, such as The Listening Place have adapted to the new social distancing rules, where face-to-face appointments are not possible. This volunteer-led organisation provides free, confidential, on-going face-to-face support for people that feel life is no longer worth living. They offer a peaceful, safe place for suicidal individuals to talk freely and confidentially to warm, non-judgemental volunteers.
In response to the Coronavirus, The Listening Place service has transitioned to a 100% telephone-based service. They continue to process all referrals within 24 hours and offer a first appointment within one week, and say: “We remain committed to offering ongoing, confidential support with the same volunteer for people who are feeling suicidal. Since the crisis began, we have accepted almost 750 referrals and are supporting 600 suicidal individuals at any one time.”
Lastly, in order to be most effective and focus their services on the frontline of the crisis, The Listening Place volunteers are offering emotional support for up to 300 NHS and Care Worker staff per week.
Support will take place by appointment and will be with the same volunteer for as long as is needed. Visit their website for more information.
The Trussell Trust
The Trussell Trust’s main priority during the Coronavirus pandemic is ensuring the safety of everyone who goes to a food bank – whether it’s someone needing help, someone volunteering their time, or someone making a donation. They are continually working with their network on how best to support people, and wherever possible, food banks will continue to provide the lifeline of emergency food.
They told us: “Things have been crazy here! We have been implementing a new logistics and delivery model to ensure we get food out to people referred to food banks, making sure we secure deals with the food industry so that we have adequate food supplies in place, working with our food banks to change to an e-referral model over paper vouchers, liaising with government about how to ensure people get the support they need during this crisis and in the long term. It has all been happening!”
Find out more via their website. Here you can request emergency food, find your nearest food bank or make a donation.
The increase in domestic violence during the lockdown has been covered in the news, and the Pathway Project is working hard to support victims during this unprecedented time. They say: “We may be a small charity, but we want people from across the UK to know that we are here for them always when it comes to domestic abuse. We've recognised that staffing the helpline is now one of our main priorities as a charity, however for many victims it’s almost impossible to get away from an abuser to make that all important call.
This is why we have recently decided to trial a new live chat system that can be accessed via our website.” At the moment the chat only runs a couple of days a week, over a limited number of hours, but the charity is hopeful to continue and expand the feature in the future. They are also currently running a COVID-19 Relief Fund on their JustGiving page.
The Pathway Project’s refuge services are still all running as normal, and they are still taking referrals each day. Their outreach support services are now telephone calls, email and text conversations and Skype calls where they can instead of face-to-face. They say: “None of our service users are being left behind, and we are working round the clock to provide them support and advice in these uncertain times. We are incredibly lucky to have such a dedicated team!”
Groundswell is another charity that has been adapting their service, enabling them to continue to support the needs of people who are homeless. The charity has been putting out lots of guidance specifically for people who are homeless to help them deal with the pandemic – these can be found here.
Furthermore, through daily diaries, telephone interviews and secondary information logging key issues, Groundswell is starting to get a strong understanding of how COVID-19 is affecting the lives of people who are homeless. Every fortnight the charity will be launching a briefing to share their findings.
Despite the lockdown, it’s important that we use our allocated ‘exercise time’ each day, as physical activity and getting outdoors have been proven to improve our physical and mental wellbeing. To help, Sustrans has created an interactive map that shows cycling related offers and services available to key workers in their local area, including:
• Offers on cycles and equipment
• Free and discounted repair and maintenance services
• Free and discounted bike sharing schemes
• And the bike stores that remain open during the crisis.
They say: “We want to help our frontline heroes cycle to and from work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic” and the map also features links to cycling and walking tips, and other useful information to keep key workers cycling safely. Discover it here.
The Hunger Project
The Hunger Project trains local people to lead change in their communities, and lift their villages above the poverty line. With almost 500,000 of them across Africa, South Asia and Latin America, the charity says: “These local people are now taking on the leadership role of their lives, just like our local heroes in the UK. They are working to protect communities living in hunger and poverty who are now also faced with Coronavirus. Coronavirus dramatically impacts the poorest communities of the globe: those who are living in hunger, where social distancing is a privilege, and who don’t have the same access to information, sanitation and healthcare as we do.”
The Hunger Project is fundraising to support those local leaders to reach everyone, and make sure that no-one is left behind. Join their appeal on Facebook here:
You can also read about the charity’s COVID-19 response across all the countries where The Hunger Project works here.
As a vulnerable group, lots of pregnant women are very anxious at the moment. Some have not been able to access their GP, midwife or maternity/early pregnancy unit for advice and support due to COVID-19. It’s therefore more important than ever that women can access expert pregnancy information at home. That’s why the Tommy’s PregnancyHub developed the Tommy’s Midwife voice skill, which is available on Alexa and Google Assistant! Whatever time of day it is, parents-to-be can ask their questions about pregnancy and receive instant expert, up-to-date advice verified by Tommy’s’ team of in-house midwives.
Keep your eyes on our blog for more updates from our lovely charities!