Mental health crisis fuelling surge in demand for small charity services, survey finds

Small charities are facing a surge in demand for support as they battle rising rates of mental health problems and loneliness among beneficiaries, a survey has revealed.

Among small charity representatives surveyed, three quarters (73%) said demand has risen over the last three months and will increase by a third over the Christmas period.

More than a third (37%) said that mental health or loneliness are the biggest issues facing people using their services.

Other factors in the surge in demand is rising gas prices and the removal of the £20 Universal Credit uplift that had been brought in by government amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey was carried out by community platform Neighbourly among representatives of 1,200 small charities, including food banks, homelessness groups, domestic abuse organisations and those that support the elderly.

Neighbourly says that more than half of small charities surveyed are reporting a drop in income over the last three months amid the current increase in demand.

“Small charities and community groups have been the backbone of our communities throughout the pandemic,” said Neighbourly chief executive Steve Butterworth.

‘’But despite their proven power, they are still undervalued and underfunded. With demand for their essential services rising rapidly, the UK’s community infrastructure must be sustained to ensure that our communities not only survive but thrive.

“The country is currently dealing with parallel crises of poverty, social isolation, and mounting mental health issues; amid rising concerns about the Omicron variant, some communities are at breaking point.

“It is essential that local causes have the resources they need – from financial support to donations of food and volunteer time. We are calling on businesses to work with us to provide greater support to these charities and community organisations on the frontline.”

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