Advocacy charity reports surge in demand amid pandemic

An advocacy charity has reported a dramatic surge in demand from disadvantaged and vulnerable people needing support amid the Covid-19 health crisis.

Figures from advocacy charity POhWER show that it supported 82,300 people in 2020/21, up 48% on the previous year’s total of 55,591.

In addition, calls and contacts to its Help Hubs were up 34.5%, from 253,216 to 340,619 over the same period.

Support includes helping uphold people’s rights and entitlements in public service areas such as care homes, prisons, hospitals, the courts and the police.

The surge in demand is due to the impact of pandemic on vulnerable people, says the charity, especially among beneficiaries with disabilities and facing social exclusion during lockdown.

“It has been an exceptional and unpredictable year,” said POhWER chief executive Helen Moulinos.

“Through the pandemic, the role of advocacy, information and advice has become paramount to supporting our beneficiaries in having their voices heard and rights upheld.

“Easements of legislative duties, blanket approaches, dilution of rights and poor access were key themes which threatened our beneficiaries’ lives during the pandemic.

“We saw socially excluded, vulnerable and marginalised people in many cases finding themselves worse off due to emergency powers and measures taken to manage the pandemic. This was not acceptable to us and we have worked extremely hard to try to create a level playing field wherever we could.”

A survey of charities in May raised concerns about escalating demand and falling donations amid Covid recovery.

Eight out of ten charities say they have experienced an increase in demand over the previous three months.

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