The food charity FoodCycle has paused all its projects because of coronavirus, as it works on alternative ways to operate them while ensuring social distancing.
The decision comes as charities across the country are suspending or adapting their services to make sure their staff, volunteers and beneficiaries are safe.
Among others, Oxfam is suspending all sales of used goods and the National Trust has shut all its parks, gardens and car parks.
FoodCycle stops services for ‘a few weeks’
FoodCycle runs 43 food projects across the country where surplus food is collected and used to cook meals for the community.
The charity has now decided to temporarily stop its projects and is working to find different ways to help its beneficiaries.
The charity said: “This decision has not come lightly, please be assured that we are doing everything we possibly can to continue to serve our guests but in order for us to do this, we have to make some big operational changes.
“We are looking at a number of options including linking up with other organisations and we just need a bit of time to work on this. We hope to have a new service back up and running as soon as possible. We can’t guarantee a timeframe, but we hope it will be within a few weeks.”
The charity is also facing financial difficulties and has launched a coronavirus emergency appeal.
Charities suspend face-to-face services
A growing list of charities has either paused some of their services, or moved them on the phone or online, in order to limit in-person interaction and follow the government’s guidelines.
Breast Cancer Now announced yesterday it would be suspending its face-to-face services, while keeping its helpline and online forum open.
Last week, Macmillan Cancer Support cancelled its Mobile Information and Support Service, which normally runs six buses with staff and volunteers visiting communities to support cancer patients.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, published a letter on the organisation’s website last week, saying that “meetings with supporters or volunteers affected by cancer are now being run as virtual meetings, or they’ve been postponed or cancelled”.
Parkinson’s UK has also suspended its local activities.
Charities are moving their services remotely when possible and many of them report increased need for them. Age UK, for example, said calls to its helplines have increased by 40%.
Oxfam stops sale and collection of second-hand goods
After closing all its 600 charity shops last week, Oxfam has now announced it will stop sales of secondhand goods through its online shop and no longer collect items from doorsteps.
The online shop will only be selling new goods, because “these are processed at a facility where social distancing measures can be implemented”, the charity said.
The online shop normally has around 100,000 secondhand items. The charity said that all in all last year its shops made £17.4m of profit.
Anne Webb, deputy trading director at Oxfam, said: “Our online shop relies on our amazing staff and volunteers to list, pack and post thousands of second hand items. We must prioritise the wellbeing of our people, and the communities they live in, by urging them to stay at home.
“Sadly this also means we will be suspending collections of secondhand goods from our network of donation points across the country. We are asking the public to please hang onto goods until we are able to start collecting again – their generosity makes Oxfam’s work fighting poverty around the world possible.
“We would like to thank our loyal customers and our family of dedicated volunteers and staff. We look forward to resuming normal service as soon as possible.”
Outstanding orders will be refunded.
National Trust closes all parks, gardens and car parks
The National Trust has announced the closure of all its parks, gardens and car parks, after closing all its shops and cafes last week.
This is to help ensure that people respect social distancing measures.
Hilary McGrady, director general of the National Trust, said: “Following the scenes we saw at the weekend, where visitors travelled to coast and countryside, it is really important that we do all we can to discourage travel, and ask people instead to stay local and observe social distancing as guided by the government. It is so important that people stay at home. We must all work together and not see a repeat of those weekend scenes.”
Last week, the organisation had announced it would be opening its parks and gardens for free to give people a place to relax while still following social distancing rules.