Coronavirus: Charities call for help to avoid ‘financial meltdown’ and save 45,000 jobs

Northern Ireland’s charities and social enterprises have appealed for help to save 45,000 jobs with many facing a “financial meltdown” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 2:08 pm
Nora Smith, chief executive of CO3, said charities will find it harder to help the most vulnerable

A group of charitable representative bodies including CO3, Social Enterprise NI (SENI), the Rural Community Network (RCN), the Community Foundation for NI and Northern Ireland Environment Link (NIEL) is calling for Stormont to step in.

The groups said traditional fund-raising has dried up with the closure of charity shops, childcare centres and cafes and the enforced cancellation of sponsored events from marathons to coffee mornings.

It has been estimated that across the UK these losses will amount to £4.3bn over the next 12 weeks.

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Nora Smith, chief executive of CO3 which represents charity bosses, 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.”

Craig McGuicken at NIEL said that charities in Northern Ireland employ 45,000 people.

“Many charities now face severe cash flow problems,” he added.

“Their funding is drying up – and where it does exist we need funders to be flexible and help us to offer support to vulnerable people and places in different ways.

“The Third Sector is an important but too often neglected sector in the economy. We must be helped to survive.”

Colin Jess at SENI said that the Scottish government has set up a £20m resilience fund to help charities and the Department for Communities has pledged a support fund here. 

“We need a similar financial support programme for charities and social enterprises,” he added.

The groups said that the impact across Northern Ireland has been “devastating for charities and the many thousands who depend on them”, with charities offering food banks facing shortages.