Northern Ireland news

Charities and social enterprises face funding crisis

The Crisis Cover Initiative has appealed for people to register as Covid-19 emergency staff so essential services for the homeless do not have to close
Suzanne McGonagle and Marie Louise McConville

CHARITIES and social enterprises have appealed for help as many face financial meltdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Traditional fundraising has dried up with the closure of charity shops, childcare centres and the cancellation of sponsored events from marathons to coffee mornings.

The impact has been devastating for many charities and the many thousands who depend on them, with community centres closed and counselling and young and older people's services unable to operate.

CO3, a group of representative bodies including Social Enterprise NI, Rural Community Network (RCN), Community Foundation for NI and NI Environment Link, last night appealed for assistance from government and the public.

Nora Smith, chief executive of CO3, said: "Charities exist to protect the most vulnerable people in society, so when we struggle it is harder to help them, and when charities close down those that so desperately need them go without."

Kate Clifford from RCN said: "These are desperate times and nobody wants to see organisations that do such good work go to the wall."

The charities were speaking as homeless groups also put out a call for `ordinary heroes' to come forward.

Under the umbrella of the Crisis Cover Initiative, organisations including Depaul, Extern, First Housing Aid and Support Services and the Simon Community appealed for people to register as Covid-19 emergency staff to help keep their doors open.

A range of skills sets and roles are required, including reception and cleaning staff, support workers, healthcare workers and night staff.

David Carroll of Depaul said it is "worried that we will be left in a position where we must close services due to too many staff having to take time off. "

Clarke Bailie, from the Housing Executive, which is supporting the initiative, said: "Ensuring we keep services running for the most vulnerable is vitally important."

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Meanwhile, the Department for Communities is separately co-ordinating a large-scale community volunteering operation providing support to older and vulnerable citizens.

Communities minister Deirdre Hargey said: "I am delighted that five days since its launch the Volunteer Now #HelpEachOther campaign has already had over 1,000 people registering to express support which is evidence of communities coming together to help those most in need.”

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