Small charities brace themselves for surge in demand in 2021

Small charities are set for an increase in demand for their services next year, following a bottlenecking of provision caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, a report has warned.

Many beneficiaries have been unable to access support amid the health crisis due to social distancing restrictions.

This includes criminal justice charities unable to gain access to people in custody and victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse denied access to face-to-face charity services during lockdown.

“However, charities aren’t expecting this to continue and are expecting they will then have a jump in referrals once this bottleneck passes,” states the report compiled the Lloyds Bank Foundation.

One sexual abuse charity said: “Since March, demand has dropped by about 34% as a result of COVID-19. We do not anticipate that this drop will last, and are expecting a surge in referrals as the UK emerges from lockdown.”

Many charities have been successfully pivoting support online through web support, social media and helplines.

But one counselling charity said: “Many people are unable or unwilling to access services remotely, preferring to wait until face-to-face services are available. As lockdown is lifted we are delivering more face-to-face work.”

This surge in demand from those unable to access support this year is set to be compounded by further demand due to an expected rise in unemployment.

Charities “are anticipating further challenges caused by increases in poverty and financial crisis, leading to greater demand for their support”, the report adds.

The Small Charities Responding to Covid-19: Winter Update report also details charity sector improvements to emerge from the pandemic. This includes better joint working, with charities working effectively together to support communities.

“Charities have shifted to focusing on maintaining, rather than building relationships” with each other, the report found.

In addition, the report details how small charities funding is set to worsen in 2021. Many are still reeling from loss of income from shop closures and centre closures.

Short term funding has been provided by funders this year “however, there are growing concerns about long-term funding shortfalls, due to the timescales at which funding, including from government, was or had to be spent and the reductions in the length of grants”, the report adds.

In October, a NCVO and Sheffield Hallam and Nottingham Trent universities survey found that more than half of charities are expecting further increases in demand for their services.

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