Coronavirus updates: Third Sector live blog

Keep up to date with all the latest coronavirus-related news affecting the charity sector. Please refresh for the latest

26 March

17:35 – We are clocking off for the evening; reports will resume on Monday

17:15: 700 Leicestershire volunteers found only hours after start of appeal

After Voluntary Action Leicestershire, Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council  teamed up to find 1,000 volunteers, 700 applications were received within hours.

VAL is working with both councils to identify critical services, how to keep them open and the wider implications for residents and communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity is appealing to those who are unable to work, are fit and well and would like an opportunity to make a difference. VAL is looking for volunteers who enjoy working with other people, are keen to help and are flexible to the changing demands of the crisis.

Kevin Allen-Khimani, executive manager, public sector contracts and projects at VAL, said: “We’re looking for businesses that have capacity or resource that they can move from their normal routine into helping others. For example, you might have staff with company vans who can’t do their normal work. If so, let’s connect you with voluntary organisations that need things delivering, such as food or medicine”.

For more information visit the VAL website.

17:00: Dealing with legacies during the coronavirus pandemic

The Good Agency has released a report on how charities can receive legacies at a very sensitive time during the coronavirus pandemic.

To access the report visit this link.

16:40: NYA and UK Youth create resource for youth workers

The National Youth Agency and UK Youth have created a resource website for youth workers and those working with young people, offering guidance and updates.

The website sections include "keep calm", "be safe" and "stay connected". There are signposting links that include guidance for youth workers and resources for young people.

The website can be accessed here.

16:30: Charity Bank compiles list of funds for charities affected by health crisis

The list, which was last updated today, includes national, international and regional funding sections with areas designated for Scottish and Northern Ireland funding.

The charity-owned bank’s website said: “As a result of the coronavirus, many organisations are now in an extremely precarious position, often having to deliver additional services with fewer volunteers and staff members, while having to cancel fundraising activities."

The list can be accessed here.

16:10: Acorn Children's Hospice to close one of three hospices temporarily

The charity's Birmingham hospice is to close temporarily, with the possibility that the building is taken over by another hospice, that the patients will be taken on by another health provider, or that Acorn itself might have a different use for the site. Staff from the Birmingham hospice will work at the charity's Walsall and Worcester hospices.

15:50: Cystic fybrosis charity pens letter to supermarkets for support

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust has reached out to supermarkets to secure support for people with the condition.

The charity says it has become aware that people with cystic fibrosis have not been able to secure the food they need in order to remain healthy. People with cystic fibrosis need a high-fat, high-calorie diet and, because some items have been rationed and people with the condition have sometimes not been recognised as members of a vulnerable group, sufferers and their families have been left worried and concerned.

The charity is calling for people with cystic fibrosis to be able to register as a vulnerable group for online grocery orders, to purchase additional quantities of essential groceries in order to meet their additional nutritional requirements, and to purchase additional quantities of toilet paper and tissues to manage the effects of their condition.

15:15: Free DAB radios for the over-70s

From 30 March anyone can nominate a person over 70 for a free DAB radio, part of the BBC’s campaign Make A Difference, with all 39 of the broadcasters England-based radio stations involved.

Radios have been donated by Argos, Currys PC World, John Lewis & Partners, Pure and Roberts Radio. Duracell UK will provide batteries and the radios will be distributed by the loneliness charity WaveLength.

Tony Hall, director-general of the BBC, said: “Local radio is a lifeline at this time and has never been more important as a source of trusted local news and information, and also as a companion for people who are isolating.”

To apply click here.

15:05: Brewery running quiz tonight to support Hospitality Action

Camden Town Brewery is to hold a virtual quiz tonight at its new Camden BRE.WWW.ERY Bar in partnership with Hospitality Action, the charity that supports people who work on the hospitality sector.

The quiz, to be held at 7pm, will be open to all and live on Camden Town Brewery’s Instagram site. A digital tip jar in the form of a JustGiving page will raise money for Hospitality Action’s Covid-19 Emergency Fund. The fund offers one-off grants to eligible workers who are facing hardship.

The quiz will be hosted by the comedian Josh Weller.

Mark Lewis, chief executive of Hospitality Action, said: “We’ve been so touched by the sense of community within the hospitality industry during the coronavirus crisis, with brands such as Camden Town Brewery really stepping up to help the industry.”

15:00: Northern Ireland volunteering charity publishes coronavirus information sheets

The Northern Ireland volunteering charity Volunteer Now has provided information sheets for volunteers during the coronavirus.

The three publications include good practice considerations for groups involving volunteers in response to Covid-19, good practice guidelines for volunteers when volunteering for Covid-19 opportunities, and keeping yourself and others safe during informal volunteering in response to the virus. 

To access them click here.

14:55: Voluntary sector signs accord with North of Tyne Combined Authority

The authority has agreed to support the sector once the public health crisis is over.

Robin Fry, North of Tyne Mayor’s ambassador to the sector, said: “The VCSE sector in the North of Tyne region covers everything from small volunteer-led groups to large international charities. Nearly a million people across the north of England volunteered in some way last year, and that number has significantly increased in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This accord aims to give voice to those volunteers and charity workers and helps ensure their views are heard in the corridors of power."

The accord can be viewed here.

14:50: Oxfam to furlough two-thirds of its UK staff

Most of the furloughed staff will come from Oxfam’s trading operation, including all shop managers and deputy shop managers. Staff from Oxfam’s online hubs and Batley recycling warehouse will also be furloughed.

Staff will be furloughed until 1 June but this will be kept under review.

Danny Sriskandarajah, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said: “Faced with reduced income and the urgent need to prioritise our response to Covid-19, we have been left with no option but to act.”

Read the full story here

13:05: DEC appeals for information on global effects of coronavirus

The Disasters Emergency Committee has launched a global appeal to understand the effects of the coronavirus on communities and groups.

The DEC is made up of 14 member charities, including Save the Children, Age International and the British Red Cross, all of which are adapting to the situation and delivering aid to those who need it most, which involves close monitoring of the situations in different areas.

It is monitoring the global impact of coronavirus in line with its appeal criteria to understand if there is a large-scale unmet humanitarian need in communities or countries with little capacity to respond to the outbreak. The decision will inform whether a national appeal will be launched.

More information can be found here.

12:55: Race Equality Foundation launches blog for black and minority ethnic communities

The Race Equality Foundation's blog focuses on the Covid-19 risk factors for black and minority ethnic communities, the "knock-on" effects and resources.

Jabeer Butt, chief executive of the foundation, tweeted that the organisation was on the look-out for more resources and encouraged people to get in contact.

The blog can be accessed here.

12:45: International Purple Day supports people with epilepsy, despite the virus

The international grass-roots effort to support and raise awareness of people with epilepsy has not been affected because of the coronavirus, report the charities Epilepsy Action and the Epilepsy Society.

The volume of tweets show people are still very much involved with #PurpleatHome and #PurpleDay2020.

12:30: Free fundraising consultations on offer 

The fundraising consultancy Charity Fundraising Ltd is offering fundraising and income generation advice sessions over the phone to charities affected by Covid-19. Depending on demand, the offer might be limited to a single session, but free resources will be given where appropriate.

The consultancy said: “With things changing day by day it can be hard to identify how best to meet the challenges ahead, not least among those will be mitigating the risk of income loss and identifying new opportunities for securing funding. Beyond the short term there is also uncertainty over what the future looks like.”

To find out more, click here.

12:25: Charities throw their support behind #ClapForCarers 

People have been invited to clap for NHS staff at 8pm tonight from their doors, windows, balconies or wherever they are safe to do so.

On Twitter, #ClapforCarers, #clapforNHS and #clapforourcarers have received huge support, with people expressing gratitude to carers, including unpaid carers, and NHS staff.

LBC has announced that radio stations will be taking part in the show of support. 

12:10: More than £11m raised in first week of coronavirus appeal

The National Emergencies Trust, which launched the appeal last Wednesday evening, said it had begun distributing the first tranche of funds to local charities through community foundations across the UK.

The funds include £4.2m pledged by companies and £4.3m from trusts, plus Gift Aid on those donations of about £1.5m. A further £1m has been raised from the public.

Read the full story here

12:10: Crowdfunding app supports National Emergencies Trust

WhatWeWant, a crowdfunding app, is to donate all fees incurred on its platform to the National Emergencies Trust. The app allows people to buy experiences and presents for loved ones.

The tech start-up said: “Typically, a user of WWW would create a gift page, either for themselves or someone close to them, for anything from a new guitar to a honeymoon fund. Now users are creating crowdfunding pages for care packages and financial support for loved ones, neighbours and NHS workers.”

Yiannis Faf, chief executive of WWW, said: “For the foreseeable future we are proud to be redirecting all fees incurred by users to the National Emergencies Trust, a hugely worthwhile charity that is doing great things to help during this unprecedented, challenging period.”

11:35: Social Change Agency offers 'fiscal hosting' for Covid-19 community groups

The Social Change Agency is offering a way for grass-roots groups that have been formed to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic to take payments.

The Open Collective allows groups to use the host’s bank account to accept and withdraw funds. The agency said the move would foster trust with donors, who might be reluctant to pay into private bank accounts.

To find out more click here.

11:20: Mental health hub establishes social support helpline

A new telephone line has been set-up by the mental health funding hub the Blurred Line Group. The social support line, which is open from 9am to 9pm, is intended to alleviate social isolation by letting callers chat about their days, with volunteers boosting morale and creating uplifting conversation.

The group said: “The call line, while aimed at creating positive conversations, will provide people with a platform to voice their worries and concerns that have been invoked by Covid-19. Using up-to-date government guidelines, volunteers will be well equipped with the latest information on appropriate helplines and services for further support.”

For further information, click here.

11:15: Supermarket's charity raises £65k to support local organisations

Nisa, a supermarket chain, has raised £65,000 to support charities during the lockdown through its Making a Difference Locally charity. Almost 200 donations have been made over the past three weeks through Nisa's shops in the UK and Ireland.

Kate Carroll, head of charity at Nisa, said: “In such unprecedented times, we’re delighted that our independent retailers are supporting their local communities in any way they can, from offering home deliveries to providing much-needed financial support via MADL donations.”

10:55: Use your reserves during crisis, Charity Commission tells sector

The regulator says financial reserves are for rainy days such as the coronavirus crisis. It advises that charities might not be able to use certain reserves because of restrictions on how they can be used, but restrictions can be amended if relevant advice is obtained.

“Most trustees will never have faced such challenging conditions and will now be forced to revisit their financial plans with a view to refocusing on essential spending and cutting back on non-urgent projects and non-core activities,” said Nick Sladden, head of charities at the financial consultancy RSM.

"Trustees and financial managers of charities will need to ensure that the coronavirus pandemic is factored into their forecast reserve levels for the foreseeable future, and for many this will require an update to the policy for the minimum level of reserves being held going into 2021. In doing so, trustees will need to consider not only the charity’s short-term viability but also the longer-term impacts on future financial resilience and donor relationships."

10:40: More than 500,000 have now volunteered to support the NHS

The number of applications to support the NHS as volunteers has reached 560,000, according to health secretary Matt Hancock this morning. The government has asked for volunteers who are over 18 to join the NHS Volunteer Responders in an effort to support the national health service and defeat Covid-19.

Those interested in applying can sign-up to one or more of four different roles: community response volunteer, patient transport volunteer, NHS transport volunteer and check-in and chat volunteer.

Volunteers will receive a guidance pack on how to stay safe while volunteering, in addition to a GoodSAM Responder app, which will show volunteers those tasks that need doing nearby. Those who are vulnerable because of age, health or pregnancy can also support the health service by offering support over the telephone.

Anyone who is interested should sign up here.

Read the full story here

10:30: Rethink Mental Illness sets up information hub for lockdown

The charity's hub contains practical information and support for people living with mental illness and their carers. It says O2 users can access the site without using up any of their data allowance.

You can access the hub here.

10:20: Third Sector backs free online conference to support charities during the health crisis

The conference, which is being organised by the customer relationship management provider Salesforce and run by the conference event producer Fundraising Everywhere, will be held online from 12 noon to 6pm on Thursday 2 April and will include sessions on a range of timely themes, including: setting up a response taskforce, working with your board and creating digital campaigns.

Confirmed speakers so far include: the international fundraising expert Beth Kanter; Rebecca Davies, head of international humanitarian fundraising at Save the Children International; Wayne Murray, director of the fundraising and communications agency at Audience; and Ligia Pena, global legacies manager at Greenpeace.

Read the full story here

10:05: Big Society Capital wants to set up emergency liquidity facility

The social impact-led investor says it and 20 other social investment organisations have written to the government saying they want to set up an emergency facility that would be able to lend rapidly to organisations supporting social needs that urgently need to solve cash-flow problems.

Unless this happens, they say, "the risks to society are significant". The letter adds: "There is a real risk that many organisations that could be financially sustainable will simply fold or cease trading and never be able to recover without the ability to borrow money that is being offered by the government to private business."

You can read the letter here.

09:50: Pet charity Blue Cross donates ventilators to NHS

Metro reports that the charity has handed over its mechanical ventilators to one hospital in London and another in Surrey.

The free newspaper says the ventilators are usually used on pets when they are under anaesthetic at the Blue Cross’s animal hospitals in Merton, south London, and Hammersmith in west London.

Nadine Lock, chief vet at the Blue Cross hospital in Hammersmith, told Metro: "We wanted to offer our help and we understand ventilators are critically important in supporting the recovery of human patients in hospital being treated for the virus. Blue Cross teams can manually ventilate pets in surgery at our hospital in Victoria, should this be necessary."

09:40: Girlguiding launches online resource hub to keep children entertained

The charity has today launched Adventures at Home to help families cope with the lockdown caused by the coronavirus crisis. It says it has curated a collection of its favourite indoor activities, opening up its programme of badges and activities for everyone to enjoy.

People do not need to be members of Girlguiding to give these a try, nor do they need any special kit. Adventures At Home is supported by the global adventurer and Girlguiding ambassador Anna McNuff, who ran 2,352 miles barefoot across the UK to inspire girls last year.

McNuff said: "In these uncertain times it’s easy to think that fun and exploration are left at the door. But being an adventurer is a state of mind. Having an adventure is trying something new, it’s embracing play and making the everyday extraordinary.”

Find out more here.

25 March

19:30 – We are clocking off for the evening; reports will resume tomorrow

16:30: Government 'considering package of measures to support sector'

At today's Prime Minister's Questions, Boris Johnson told MPs that Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were “looking at a package of measures to support charities as well”.

Major charity umbrella bodies have been urging the government to provide immediate assistance to the voluntary sector and have started a campaign using the hashtag #EveryDayCounts.

Baroness Barran, the Minister for Civil Society, told peers yesterday that the government understood the Covid-19 pandemic presented serious challenges to the sector.

Read the full story here

16:00: Leeds Council offers volunteer matching service

The city's local authority says: "If you're unable to leave the house due to the Covid-19 pandemic and worried because you don't have family or friends who can help, please contact us now on 0113 3781877. You will be matched with a local volunteer."

15:45: Youth Scotland launches action fund in response to virus

The Youth Scotland Action Fund is a micro-grant fund that is being supported by, among others, the STV Children's Appeal and the Robertson Trust. The charity says the purpose of the fund is to enable youth groups to purchase essential items that will enable them to continue working with young people throughout this period of social distancing and restrictions.

Grants of up to £500 are available to member organisations that have turnovers of less than £200,000 a year, are based in and working with local communities in Scotland and plan to spend the grant within six weeks of receiving it.

Further details can be found here.

15:40: Charity Retail Association video reminds people not to donate while shops are closed


15:30: Community Foundation for Calderdale seeks £100k for community resilience fund

Its appeal says: "It's sad that #covid19UK is hitting us so soon after #flooding but we are working with Calderdale Council and key partners to set up and launch the Calderdale Community Resilience Fund. We are mobilising resources and donors to support front-line charities locally and help local vulnerable people."

At time of writing, the fund had raised more than £30,000. To donate, click here.

15:05: £20m Scottish Third Sector Resilience Fund now open

The Scottish government is making the money available to charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations working in Scotland, supporting organisations that already deliver services and products but find themselves in financial difficulties directly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations says it will be delivered by Firstport, Social Investment Scotland and the Corra Foundation and will provide grants of between £5,000 and £100,000. A further £5m approximately will be available in the form of zero per cent interest loans starting at £50,000.

An eligibility checker is available here on the SCVO website.

13:10: Appeal for NHS volunteers brings 170,000 sign-ups overnight

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, last night announced the move to recruit 250,000 volunteers to help the NHS.

The recruitment drive, which is being led by the Royal Voluntary Service and the medical app company GoodSAM, has so far attracted 170,000 people, RVS and NHS England confirmed.

Read the full story here

13:05: Chief executive of Care England says adult social care needs support too

An open letter from Martin Green calls on retired staff with experience in the adult social care sector "to engage in this national effort to keep social care operational" and urges those who aren't working during the pandemic to "utilise the provisions made within the Coronavirus Bill with regards to ‘emergency volunteering leave’."

His letter adds: "Many providers have noted that they already see rising levels of Covid-19-related absences. This combined with the already extremely high levels of vacancy rates in the adult social care sector has the potential to create a perfect storm for the sector. However, with your help we can act to avert such a reality and the negative implications it would have upon some of society’s most vulnerable individuals."

13:00: Girish Menon: Bringing calm and a semblance of normality are key to leadership at this time

In an opinion piece for Third Sector, the chief executive of ActionAid UK says staying mission-focused and resilient, and communicating well, will help you and your staff get through the coronavirus lockdown.

Read the full opinion here

12:40: Locality says local community organisations need government funds urgently

The membership charity, which represents more than 700 organisations, says funding is crucial if they are to continue providing vital local services.

Tony Armstrong, chief executive of Locality, said: “Local community organisations are already at the forefront of protecting vulnerable people during the Covid-19 crisis. They already know and support vulnerable groups, know the local councils and voluntary networks and have existing services that can easily be adapted. Crucially, they can coordinate the many local people wanting to volunteer to stay safe, get the help to those who really need it and ensure vulnerable people are not exploited. 

“Yet they already face financial uncertainty. The government must announce an urgent package of financial support for these organisations, which are stepping up across the country to help protect those who need it most.”

12:33: National Brain Appeal seeks £100k to support staff at the National Hospital

Its emergency appeal is to support staff at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Queen Square, London.

Monies raised will go into an emergency care fund that will provide immediate and practical assistance to hospital staff, such as healthy snacks, non-perishable food items, personal hygiene products such as toothbrushes and toothpaste. The charity also plans to have funds available for any unanticipated hardships during this crisis and in the immediate aftermath.

To donate, go to justgiving.com/campaign/emergency-appeal.

12:25: Manchester charity pledges £175k to help vulnerable people in the city

We Love MCR says its Covid-19 Community Response Fund will make awards of between £500 and £3,000 and will decide on each application within 24 hours.

Ged Carter, the charity’s development manager, said: “We can have the money in people’s bank accounts urgently, and sometimes within 24 hours of an application being approved. 
“We’ve kick-started the fund with £175,000, but we’re urging other people to donate to it with the promise that all their donations will go directly to front-line groups and charities."

11:15: Personal protection equipment vital for care workers, Unison warns

Social care staff who are looking after older and vulnerable people are "frightened and frustrated" because they're not getting access to PPE, the trade union has claimed.

Some staff have been driven to tears for fear they will infect their own families, says Unison. It quotes a care worker, whose daughter has underlying health issues, saying: “I feel guilty that I’ll be the one who puts her life at risk, every time I go to look after someone else's parent.”

Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Care workers and their employers have huge concerns about getting their hands on the equipment they need. It’s too easy for staff to fall through the net given that councils are dealing with many different care providers."

Another union, Unite, which represents thousands of staff working in social care, reported two days ago that employers were unable to supply basic personal protective equipment such as gloves, aprons, masks and hand sanitiser to its members.

10:50: HSBC donates £1m to National Emergencies Trust and British Red Cross

Ian Stuart, chief executive of HSBC UK, said: “Over the last week we’ve brought forward a number of measures to support our customers through the days and months to come.

“We also want to play our part in helping the nation. With our donation to the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal and the British Red Cross we hope to support communities across the UK as this national effort continues.”

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross and a board member of the National Emergencies Trust, said: “With the help of such contributions, the British Red Cross can continue its vital work, putting kindness into action to support the most vulnerable people and help to build community resilience wherever it’s needed, for as long as it takes."

Monies raised by the appeal are being distributed by the National Emergencies Trust to local community foundations and other charities so people dealing with the impact of illness, social isolation or loss of income can get support.  

10:45: Oxfam suspends sale of second-hand goods from website

The international charity is also phasing out collection of donated goods because of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

There are approximately 100,000 second-hand items on the Oxfam online store, and the charity’s shops – both online and on the high street – raise £17.4m a year for its work.

But the charity said it would continue allowing customers to purchase goods from the Sourced by Oxfam range because the items are “processed at a facility where social distancing measures can be implemented”.

Read the full story here

10:40: Sector could lose £35m in three months because of pub closures

PubAid, which promotes charity and community work by pubs, estimates that charities could lose £25m that would ordinarily be raised or donated by pubs over the next three months, while grass-roots sports organisations could lose up to £10m.

The group calculates that pubs raise £100m a year for charities and £40m for grass-roots sport.

Des O'Flanagan, co-founder of PubAid, said: "Clearly, traditional fundraising through events in pubs will have to stop, in line with government advice to avoid social contact.”

Read the full story here

10:35: Arts Council England offers £160m in emergency funding

The organisation's Covid-19 package is giving arts bodies the chance to get grants to help them through the health crisis. The grant-maker announced yesterday that it would be making £90m available to national portfolio organisations – those it already funds – and £50m to other arts organisations.

The remaining £20m will be available for artists’ benevolent funds in grants of up to £4m, and for individual artists and practitioners in grants of up to £2,500. 

Read the full story here

10:20: Family Lives issues advice on coping at home during coronavirus lockdown

The relationships charity says the national health crisis can lead to uncertainty and tensions in the family home as people struggle to balance childcare with meeting work commitments.

The organisation says it's important to establish a routine, with sensible flexibility, and to share the workload. It stresses that self-care is important, with your own wellbeing and emotional health fundamental to getting through this difficult time. And though schoolchildren will have work to do, it's important that they don't spend all their time working.

For more information click here.

24 March

19:00 – We are clocking off for the evening, reports will resume tomorrow

16:30: Volunteering Matters launches business/charity connection service 

The volunteering charity Volunteering Matters has launched a new service to connect businesses with charities that need support during the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a statement published today, the charity said that more than 50 companies had come forward with offers of support from remotely working staff, including assistance with business planning, project management, IT expertise and logistics, such as vehicle supply. 

Charities and voluntary organisations that urgently need support from the business community in response to coronavirus can share their support requests by completing a short form

16:00: ZSL London Zoo launches appeal for public support 

ZSL London Zoo has appealed for public support "to feed and care for its 18,000 animals - from majestic lions to tiny frogs" while the zoo is closed to visitors under the government's coronavirus measures. 

The zoo closed to the public on Saturday 21 March for the first time since the Second World War, offering its car park to NHS key workers and sending packages of perishable food from its on-site restaurant to nearby hospitals.

15:30: RSPCA providing emergency-only service to animals

Chief executive Chris Sherwood has urged people to call the animal charity's helpline only in real emergency situations and to refer to the website in all other cases.

He said: "Despite most of the country staying at home, there are still animals that need our help and I’m so incredibly thankful for front-line officers helping animals in emergency situations, our hospital workers for providing emergency treatment and our centre staff and volunteers who are giving love and affection to the hundreds of animals in our care."

The charity has a team of front-line officers, 17 animals centres, four wildlife centres and four animal hospitals across England and Wales. The picture shows RSPCA Inspector Jaime Godfrey with a baby otter.

15:05: CFG chief laments lack of government help for the sector

Without urgent help, the sector will be decimated, the chief executive of the Charity Finance Group has warned. In a blog for the CFG, published today, Caron Bradshaw writes: "I am so very disappointed and frustrated. Charities are in crisis and we need deliberate and immediate action to avert disaster.

"I have been disappointed and frustrated at the lack of reference to, or recognition of the role charity and social change organisations play in the government’s daily briefings. With the exception of the salary scheme (which, whilst welcome for some charities, is totally ineffective for others), there has been no mention of this sector, no comprehensive package of support. We are left to see whether the schemes devised for business might also work for us. They often don’t.

"The longer it is left, the more damage is done. Charities are needed now more than ever and they are stepping up to help. Government cannot leave it to philanthropists, the public and grant makers. Nor can it leave it to the banks to loan cash (which without income is a challenge to repay) to get over this unprecedented period. We need government support. We need it now."

14:55: Write to your MPs about financial help, Directory of Social Change tells sector

The Directory of Social Change and other sector infrastructure bodies have urged those working in the sector to write to their MPs, calling on them to support "swift, substantial and simple financial help" from national government for charities.

The DSC has provided a template letter, using the hashtag #EveryDayCounts, which says that without financial support "charities like ours in your constituency could go under at short notice in the coming days and weeks".

The letter calls on MPs to urge the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to establish a £4.3bn emergency stabilisation fund and make the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme eligible for all charities, not just those that receive more than 50 per cent of their income from trading, which is the current position. Find out more here.

13:00: Treasury Committee letter calls on government to support charities 

In a letter published on Twitter, the Treasury Committee has urged the government to take more action to help self-employed people affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Question 13 of the letter asks: 

"How will the government be supporting charities, who face sharp falls in their revenue streams, but who may also face additional demand for their services due to the 'social distancing' enforced by the coronavirus outbreak, for instance homelessness charities and women's refuges?" 

12:50: Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator warns that it is operating on reduced resources

12:22: Canal & River Trust urges limited use of towpaths

12:15: Emergency appeal for Shooting Star Children's Hospices


12:10: New blog on individual fundraising during the pandemic

The Institute of Fundraising has tweeted about the consultancy Think CS's latest blog on fundraising in the time of coronavirus.

12:00: Aberdeen children's hospital to attempt world record-breaking online quiz

According to the Aberdeen Evening Express, the Archie Foundation hopes to run the world's largest online quiz on 1 April, with the aim of raising money to support children's care in north-east Scotland.

Jamie Smith, the charity's regional fundraising manager, said: “We would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to join us on April 1 to help us raise money for local sick children and enjoy being part of this exciting world record attempting fundraiser.”

Hosted by the radio presenter Lauren Mitchell on Facebook, the quiz will cost £5 to enter. To get involved, text ARCHIEQUIZ to 70085.

11:45: Self-employed childminders need urgent wage support, warns Early Years Alliance

The charity says that, under the "coronavirus job retention scheme" announced by the Chancellor on Friday, businesses can apply for grants to cover 80 per cent of the wages of furloughed staff for an initial period of three months – but this scheme doesn’t apply to self-employed people.

It says the number of childminders has fallen by 22 per cent since August 2015, a drop of 10,200 to 37,600.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the alliance, said: “For years now, we have seen a slow but steady decline in the number of childminders operating in the sector. With so many heavily reliant on parent fees for their income – which will fall dramatically following the government instruction to all childcare providers to close to all but key workers and vulnerable children – without additional financial support many will not be able to survive this difficult period."

11:35: Anti-cyberbullying charity offers free digital teaching and support

The Cybersmile Foundation is offering use of its full curriculum of lesson plans and access to its interactive learning programme to all parents, students and teachers, free of charge.

It is also seeking funders for its emergency interactive learning modules to educate people about the importance of social distancing, hand hygiene and best practice as the UK goes into lockdown. Potential partners should contact corporate@cybersmile.org.

11:25: Citizens Advice welcomes suspension of benefit reviews during crisis

It says that the government's decision to suspend re-assessments and reviews for personal independence payment, universal credit and employment and support allowance is "common sense".

CAS social justice spokesperson Mhoraig Green said: “Our view is that these type of face-to-face meetings are rarely necessary and that better decisions can be reached using existing evidence about a persons’ situation, including from their medical practitioners. Suspending them now is certainly the right decision: disabled people have enough to concern themselves with simply by keeping themselves safe and healthy at the moment. They do not need the additional stress of reviews and re-assessments.”

11:10: Work-life balance charity publishes guide for managing homeworkers

As the country goes into lockdown, the guide from Working Families gives tips on how to get the best from remote workers, with step-by-step plans for training and development, working team protocols and setting objectives.

Jane van Zyl, chief executive of Working Families, said: “We hope our guide will help employers recognise the far-reaching benefits of flexible working – including increased productivity and engagement from staff – and that they will continue to embed flexible working into their business long after the coronavirus has run its course.” 

The guide will be available as a free download for employers as long as social distancing measures are in place.

11:00: Supermarket Morrisons to take on charity shop staff

According to BBC News, the retailer will take on 500 staff from Marie Curie and Clic Sargent to help older and vulnerable people with shopping trips and at checkouts.

Morrisons said in a statement that shop workers from other charities would also be welcomed if they were looking for temporary employment.

Full story to come

10:42: 'Which charities can we not afford to lose?' asks think tank's guidance

Voluntary sector funders should ask themselves which charities they believe cannot be lost amid the coronavirus crisis, according to new guidance from the think tank NPC.

How Philanthropists Should Respond to Coronavirus: Consequences, crises and opportunities for charities warns that philanthropists must act now to prevent vital civil society organisations from going under.

“The coronavirus outbreak will have profound and lasting implications for charities and the people they work with,” the publication says. “Funders need to think beyond the short-term crisis response to ensure the survival of the community groups, charities and local social enterprises that not only provide vital services, but are integral to the social fabric of our communities.

“This means acting now to prevent charities from going under.”

10:38: Use your reserves if you're struggling, Charity Commission advises

Updated guidance from the regulator tells charities to dig into their reserves if the coronavirus crisis is affecting their ability to operate, but they should first identify any limits on the use of funds and assets.

“The commission encourages you to also carefully consider the wider and longer-term impacts of making such a decision on your financial resilience and donor relationships,” the guidance says. “You should seek professional advice on this if you can. The commission will be as helpful as possible and offer what guidance we can.”

The commission adds that HM Revenue & Customs grants to cover 80 per cent of the wages of companies’ staff members temporarily without work due to Covid-19 will be available to charities, regardless of their size.

10:28: Tributes paid as prominent fundraiser Danielle Atkinson dies aged 46

The head of individual giving at Plan International UK passed away in the early hours of yesterday morning of as yet unknown causes. Former colleagues have variously described her as "funny, feisty and fabulous", "a brilliant fundraiser" and "a lovely person".

Rose Caldwell, chief executive of Plan International UK, said: “We are extremely saddened at the passing of our beloved colleague and friend. Danielle had a long and successful career in fundraising and was hugely respected across the sector."

Atkinson is survived by her parents, her brother and sister-in-law and her nieces. She was a trustee of the Institute of Fundraising between July 2014 and July 2019.

09:30: Sussex-based children's charity launches emergency appeal 

The children's charity Action Medical Research, which has been funding medical breathroughs since 1952, has launched an emergency appeal after the cancellation of several annual fundraising events. 

Speaking to the Worthing Herald, fundraising director Lewis Coghlin said: “So many organisations and businesses are having to brace themselves during these unprecedented times, and Action is no different.

“Action isn’t a very big charity. Few people have heard of us, so this will probably have a big impact on our work this year.”

23 March

18:00 – We are clocking off for the evening, reports will resume tomorrow 

17:48 Food poverty charity FoodCycle announces all projects are being paused in the face of Coronavirus 

In a statement on its website, the charity said it hoped to have services up and running again soon, but stressed that the social distancing measures introduced by the government had forced it to make "big operational changes". 

"The whole nation is facing an extremely difficult time right now and we want to protect our guests and volunteers, and do what we can to support social distancing," the charity said

17:10: The National Council of YMCAs in England and Wales announces all retail stores will be closing

17:00: Charity Commission announces new financial advice in its Coronavirus guidance

16:45: Scope and others write to government about dangers of Coronavirus Bill to disabled people

16:10: Community foundation offers grants of up to £1,500 to grass-roots projects

The Heart of England Community Foundation has today opened its Coronavirus Resilience Fund to support grass-roots projects affected by Covid-19, having netted nearly £80,000 in donations to an emergency appeal launched last week.

Grants of up to £1,500 are available to groups providing such services as food banks, emergency food parcel deliveries and outreach activities in the West Midlands.

The charity wants to triple the £80,000 and is appealing to companies and individuals across the region for more donations. To apply to the fund, please visit: https://www.heartofenglandcf.co.uk/coronavirus-resilice-fund/.

16:00: National Trust for Scotland closes all properties and car parks

The conservation organisation has also closed all holiday let properties and cancelled bookings up to the end of April, and it is asking people not to travel to its island properties.

The decision was partly influenced, NTS says, by a busy weekend in which it became apparent that social distancing guidelines were not being followed.

Chief executive Simon Skinner said: "To support the non-essential travel instruction, we are closing all our remaining open properties, including gardens, grounds and country parks, along with our car parks and holiday let properties. I am truly sorry for the disappointment and inconvenience this is causing, but for the safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff this is the right course of action."

15:50: Children's Society announces temporary closure of all its shops

All 106 of the charity's UK retail outlets stopped trading until further notice after their doors closed on Saturday.

Chief executive Mark Russell said: “We have taken this really tough decision because first and foremost we want to do all we can to protect our wonderful staff, volunteers and customers from the risk of the coronavirus.

“While their support enables us to raise millions of pounds each year to offer vital help to some of the country’s most vulnerable children and young people, people’s safety must come first.

“Like many charities, we are concerned about our ability to fund our work at the current time, particularly as we might expect more young people to need our help. As well as our shops, fundraising and supporter events, which also bring in crucial income, are being affected."

15:50: Asda donates £5m to food charities FareShare and the Trussell Trust

The donation will help both charities deal with what they foresee as significant demand for basic supplies over the next few weeks as the pandemic continues.

It is expected the funding will help to provide more than four million meals to families in poverty during the crisis and give access to free food to more than 3,000 smaller charities over the next three months.

Asda is also investing in logistics and support services for the charities.

The John Lewis Partnership, which owns the Waitrose supermarket chain, has said it will donate an initial £75,000 to a number of charities, including Age UK, FareShare and the Trussell Trust.

15:40: LGBTQ+ charity begins crowdfunding campaign to train telefriending volunteers

Opening Doors London, which provides support services for people aged over 50 in the LGBTQ+ community, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to train volunteers in its telefriending service.

The charity says the coronavirus crisis has forced it to halt hundreds of face-to-face services, so it is unable to reach many socially isolated members of the LGBTQ+ community, some of them with no access to digital services.

Meghan Herring, befriending coordinator at Opening Doors London, said: “As the Covid-19 outbreak affects all members of society, we are working hard to protect those most a risk of being overlooked: the elderly, lonely and most isolated groups. We urgently need support crowdfunding so we can help train our volunteers in telefriending so they can continue to provide those small services, which make a big difference."

Donations can be made here.

15:00: National Garden Scheme still committed to providing £1m to beneficiary charities and schemes

Despite deciding to ask all its garden owners not to open their spaces to the public this year in light of the coronavirus crisis, the National Garden Scheme says it will still be making a large number of grants.

Chief executive George Plumtre said garden openings provided the organisation with 90 per cent of its income. "However, we are still donating in excess of £1m to the majority of our nursing and health beneficiaries this spring and are delighted to be able to announce the tripling of funds to community gardens that make such a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of so many.”

This is the first time in the 93-year history of the scheme that all participating gardens have been closed, a period that includes the Second World War and the swine-flu outbreak of 2009/10. More than 800 new and returning gardens were due to open this year.

14:45: Union says social care workers should be provided with full protective equipment during pandemic

Unite, which represents thousands of staff working in social care, says they are reporting that employers are unable to supply basic personal protective equipment such as gloves, aprons, masks and hand sanitiser.

It says its members look after some of the most vulnerable and frailest people in the country, and the sector is highly fragmented, with 1,200 different organisations and companies providing home care in England alone.

Unite national officer Jim Kennedy said: “Given the critical role social care workers are playing, it is absolutely essential that they are fully protected.

“Public Health England and the government need to intervene immediately to make sure that essential PPE is supplied to the workers, who must have it to do their jobs safely and protect the vulnerable who rely on their services.”

14:20: Chief executive of the Lloyds Bank Foundation Paul Streets illustrates the coronavirus and charity funding problem in a widely shared tweet

12:30pm: Cross-party group of MPs urges Chancellor to inject cash into sector

In a letter to Rishi Sunak, organised by the Labour MP Stephen Doughty, 100 MPs and peers have argued that the work of charities will be vital during the pandemic, but many face severe challenges and even closure because their funds are running out.

The letter calls for immediate emergency funding of front-line charities and the establishment of a "stabilisation fund" to help charities stay afloat while the pandemic continues.

The letter also calls on the government to provide confirmation that all charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises as employers will be eligible for the government scheme to cover 80 per cent of salaries of retained workers.

11am: Hostelling Scotland to temporarily close Youth Hostel network

Given the latest government guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Hostelling Scotland announced the temporary closure of all 33 hostels within its network across the country with immediate effect.

Margo Paterson, chief executive of Hostelling Scotland, said: “It is with great sadness that we have had to temporarily close our Youth Hostel network until further notice.

"However, the health, safety and wellbeing of our people and guests, along with protecting the communities in which we all live and work, is our utmost priority at this time."

10:37am: Comic Relief's new chief executive steps down to be with family

With the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 crisis, Comic Relief’s new chief executive, Alex Reid, who started in March 2020, has returned to Seattle to be with her family. After careful consideration she has decided to step down so that the organisation can be run from the UK.

Ruth Davison, the former interim chief executive and executive director of impact and investment, will be the acting chief executive to provide strong and stable leadership during this unique and challenging period.

Davison said: “The work Comic Relief funds is more relevant than ever during these unprecedented times. Our charity remains committed to funding vital projects that help vulnerable people in the UK and internationally, as they adapt their services in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

9am: Pride In London announces postponement of 2020 Parade

Pride in London has announced it will postpone the 2020 parade and associated events that were due to take place on Saturday 27 June 2020, in light of government guidance about the coronavirus pandemic. Organisers said the decision had been made "with a heavy heart".

A statement from Pride in London’s co-chairs said: “It’s been a tough decision to postpone the Pride in London Parade and events, but the health and safety of our communities is our top priority. With the climate changing daily, we need to think even further ahead and make timely decisions to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities, volunteers and participants.

7am: National Trust announces closure of parks

The charity had previously pledged to keep its parks and gardens open so people could visit during the coronavirus pandemic, but on Sunday it announced that it had taken the decision to close them to help restrict the spread of the virus.

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