An unprecedented UK-wide disaster relief fund has been launched to raise money for voluntary groups providing care and support for elderly and vulnerable people hit by the social and economic impact of the coronavirus.
Donations, which can be made via this LINK, will be targeted at local charities supporting older people, particularly where they are confined to their homes and at risk of social isolation, as well as those supporting people with mental health issues, cancer and chronic disease.
Community organisations that support people on low and insecure incomes, such as food banks or groups that can supply school dinner replacements in disadvantaged communities where schools have been closed, are also expected to benefit.
The launch of the fund comes amid reports that vulnerable people are struggling to get vital food and medicine supplies because of panic-buying, and that many frontline charities are struggling to stay solvent and maintain services because of widespread cancellations of national and local fundraising events such as the London marathon.
The fund will provide a single collection point for public donations before distributing them “as quickly as possible” in the form of grants to frontline charities across the UK using the local expertise of a network of 46 regional Community Foundations.
The campaign will be co-ordinated by the National Emergencies Trust (NET) charity, which was set up last year following the Grenfell Tower and Manchester Arena tragedies to co-ordinate disaster fundraising responses and provide a trusted channel for people who want to donate but who are unsure how to, or who to give to.
Modelling itself loosely on the Disasters Emergency Committee, which coordinates the UK charity aid fundraising response for major overseas humanitarian disasters, this will be the first time an initiative on this scale has been domestic-focused. No fundraising target has been set.
The chairman of the National Emergencies Trust, Lord Dannatt, said: “We will channel the money raised to those organisations so people who need it can get support as quickly as possible but also who will need these vital funds to continue to be there for the long haul.
“These are tough and uncertain times and we’re only asking those who can really afford to give to our appeal to do so. We will do our very best to channel the money raised to organisations where people who need it can get support as quickly as possible.”
NET says the disaster relief fund is independent of government, although seed funding to set up the charity last year was provided by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. On its website the NET says it is “a charity, not the state” and it will not seek to replicate the work of central or local government.
Although the allocations between regions are not yet decided, it is understood they will be based on an assessment of need in that area. Community Foundations will be given flexibility to allocate the money as they see fit, again based on an assessment of local needs.
Donors to the UK coronavirus disaster relief fund will be able to give financial assistance online. They will not be able to specify which individual organisations they wish to help. Donations will go to local charities in the form of direct cash grants, rather than to individuals and families. Charities seeking assistance should contact their local Community Foundation.
Donations can be made at: www.nationalemergenciestrust.org.uk. Or through the following online giving platforms:
Separately, a national initiative of more than 40 voluntary sector organisations has been set up with government support to recruit and deploy volunteers to help support vulnerable people. Some charities are struggling to keep services going because a high proportion of their volunteer workforce is over 70 and has been asked to isolate at home.
Source: The Guardian