More charities launch emergency appeals, as some face closure

25 Mar 2020 News

More charities have launched emergency coronavirus appeals as the cancellation of events and fundraisers threatens their survival.

The sector is asking the government to do more to support charities, which face both drastically reduced income and increased need for their services.

Charities of all sizes are facing a cash flow crisis and some say they are now within weeks of closure. This is affecting organisations operating in a range of areas, including arts and culture, animal charities and even healthcare organisations.

Shooting Star Children’s Hospice closed one of its hospices

Shooting Star Children’s Hospice normally runs two hospices in London and Surrey. According to the Charity Commission’s website, it employs 230 people.

The charity has launched an emergency appeal, has had to close one of its facilities and says it is facing a shortfall of £2m.

The appeal says: “It costs £10m a year to maintain our current level of care and just 10% of that income comes from government funding, so we rely on our supporters’ generosity to keep the service running.”

Nigel Harding, chief executive of Shooting Star Children’s Hospice, said: “The stark reality is, if we don’t receive financial support in the coming weeks, we could face having to stop providing end-of-life and emergency respite care too and with the pressures facing the NHS, our services for those most vulnerable in our community are needed now more than ever. Without our hospices, the families we support will simply have nowhere left to turn.”

HIV specialist hospital’s future at risk

Mildmay Hospital, a specialist hospital in London providing neurological care for people with HIV, was facing closure before the crisis because of shortage in NHS funding. Patients were not being referred to the hospital and thus the charity was not receiving the £5m a year it needs to operate. 

The charity has launched a petition online, which has reached 60,000 signatures and says: “Even though Mildmay actually costs less per patient than acute NHS hospitals and its highly-skilled doctors, nurses and therapists are experts in specialist HIV care, desperately sick patients are not being transferred from London’s NHS hospitals and are blocking beds that are urgently needed by other patients.”

On Monday, the charity was asked to take in HIV patients to free up beds for Covid-19, which the charity says would be a “lifeline” for the hospital. However, the transfers have not been authorised yet. For now, the charity has suspended its countdown to closure, which is currently at eight days.

Charities in the arts and culture sector fundraising for support

Many charities in the arts and culture sector are launching emergency appeals because they normally depend on the sale of tickets to operate. Among these are local theatres, arts centres and heritage sites.

For example, The Actors Centre, an organisation that support actors in their professional development, says in its appeal: “As an unsubsidised charity, we rely on our workshops, theatre and membership income to stay afloat. Covid-19 represents the biggest threat in our organisation’s 42-year history and with our building currently closed, we are set to lose as yet unquantifiable and vital income.”

Some organisations are asking people to donate the price of their tickets even though the event they were going to take part into has been cancelled.

Tourist attraction Creswell Crags, which on the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border, is among the sites at risk that have launched an emergency appeal. 

The site is run by charity Creswell Heritage Trust, is not part of any bigger organisations and says that 2020 was already a difficult year because it was the first time it would not receive any funding from local authorities.

After closing the site and losing visitors’ income, the organisation says there is only enough funding to see it through to the end of April.

Dr Tim Caulton, chair of Creswell Heritage Trust, said: “Creswell Crags has been home to humans for millennia.  Creswell Heritage Trust cares for the site which is one of the most significant and protected heritage sites in the UK. Yet our immediate future has never been more perilous. We are unable to claim at present on our business insurance as we close in response to coronavirus in what was already set to be a challenging year. Without significant external support, the organisation that looks after Creswell Crags will not be able to survive the summer.”

Today the Arts Council England has announced an emergency funding package worth £160m to help arts charities get through the crisis.

Many sectors affected

Other charities facing similar situations include sight loss charity Beacon, Dove House Hospice, animal charities Wolfwood and Animal Health Trust, charity-run Severn Valley Railway, and others.

The number of charities, small and big, that have launched emergency coronavirus appeals is becoming too high to keep tabs on all.

A conservative estimate from NCVO says that the sector could stand to lose £4.3bn over 12 weeks because of the pandemic.

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