Demand on small charities highest since pandemic began, research says

The average number of people supported by local causes reached record levels in June, according to findings from Neighbourly

photo by Kristian Buus/In Pictures via Getty Image
photo by Kristian Buus/In Pictures via Getty Image

Demand on small charities is higher now than at any other stage of the pandemic, with two-thirds of organisations reporting rising demand despite the easing of lockdown, new research has found.

Over the past three months 62 per cent of small charities have seen increasing demand, according to a survey of more than 1,000 organisations by community investment and engagement platform Neighbourly.

An average of 417 people were supported by charities each week in June 2021, an increase of 118 on the previous year, the survey says.

And since March last year, the average number of people a local good cause supports each week has risen by 187 percent.

Almost half (48 per cent) of the surveyed charities reported a drop in income over the past three months, with 50 per cent naming their financial situation as their biggest concern.

Organisations also flagged the impact of the end of the UK’s self-isolation restrictions on service users, with four in five (83 per cent) concerned about vulnerable people having to isolate again.

And two-thirds (63 per cent) of the charities said that the end of the government’s furlough scheme and temporary uplift in Universal Credit in September would drive an increase in demand for their services.

Small charities and local good causes expect demand to increase by 33 per cent in the next three months, which could be extrapolated to more than 2.3 million people needing additional support over this period, according to Neighbourly.

Commenting on the findings, Steve Butterworth, chief executive of Neighbourly, said: “Small charities and community groups have been the backbone of our communities throughout the pandemic. But despite their proven power, they are still undervalued.

“With demand for their essential services continuing to rise, the UK’s community infrastructure must be sustained to ensure that our communities not only survive but thrive.

Butterworth added that 'levelling up' the UK should be driven by communities and the knowledge of local people.

“Alarming levels of poverty, inequality and social isolation, alongside mounting mental health problems, are pushing some communities to breaking point,” he said.

“Together we must ensure that local causes have the resources they need – from financial support to donations of food and volunteer time.”

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