Some charities face a 'tsunami of need' because of the coronavirus pandemic, report warns

Some charities could be facing a “tsunami of need” as service user referrals that have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic begin to accelerate, a new report warns. 

The report, called Small Charities Responding to Covid-19 and published today by the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, also warns that many charity leaders are at “significant risk of burnout” because of the demands on them due to the pandemic. 

The report, which is based on research conducted between May and October with 180 small, local and specialist charities, says charities including those dealing with domestic abuse or sexual abuse and criminal justice organisations reported a drop in referrals when the UK went into lockdown in March. 

But the report says: “It is not expected that these reductions will last, but it does indicate further pressures on charities in the long term as it will create a bottleneck in accessing support. 

“Charities offering counselling support most frequently report clients deferring support until it can be provided face-to-face, creating a backlog among existing clients as well as the backlog from the expected increase in new clients.”

One homelessness charity that contributed to the report said: “We are anticipating a tsunami of need to start coming through the doors as people who were unable to be evicted during Covid-19 start to receive eviction notices.”

The report also warns of the effects of lockdown on staff wellbeing and concerns of burnout as they deal with higher levels of need for a prolonged period. 

“For many frontline staff, the necessary emotional separation between work and home collapsed, as they were supporting clients through traumatic experiences from their living room,” the report says. 

This has had an effect on the recruitment and retention of staff, it says. 

“For many leaders in particular, the personal and professional toll of the past six months is presenting a significant risk of burnout. 

“They have felt tasked with providing certainty for trustees, staff, volunteers and beneficiaries where there is none.”

Paul Streets, chief executive of the Lloyds Bank Foundation, said small charities and community groups were in urgent need of funding. 

“Small charities have long been at the heart of their communities but are never more needed than now,” he said. 

“To ensure small charities can help people and communities to build back better, we need national and local government, alongside independent funders, to commit to providing the funding for core costs they need using grants wherever they can, and not contracts.” 

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