06:30PM, Thursday 05 November 2020
Charities are among the sectors that will be hardest hit by a national lockdown, battling the usual trials of reduced staff under the furlough scheme, on top of heavy losses in fundraising.
The struggle for charities is two-fold – many will be unable to benefit from fundraising events, as these commonly include meeting up with others, while those with retail outlets face a drastic drop in income.
Charity retail stores would expect to be very busy this time of year, with demand of Christmas gifts at its peak.
In the days running up to lockdown, these charities put out pleas for shoppers to visit and support the stores as much as possible.
Age Concern Slough and Berkshire East (SABE) was one of these. The charity has several stores in Maidenhead, Slough and Windsor, and had only just opened its Christmas shop in Eton Wick when the news of national lockdown came.
Even with charities’ best fundraising efforts, the picture is stark. Thames Hospice stands to lose a quarter of a million pounds of income in the single month that lockdown is in place.
“Lots of charities will have worked really hard and invested a lot in social distancing,” said Julie Rowley, retail director for Thames Hospice. “We all hoped it couldn’t come to this.”
During the last lockdown, some of the landlords owning the retail space were understanding and supportive, while others were not, creating more financial difficulty.
The lockdown will have long-term effects on some charities, such as Absolutely Leisure, which provides activities to special needs children in the Royal Borough and Slough.
“We can’t take any money and we’ve had very little support from the Government, so we’re going to have to cut some of our programmes to a group that’s really in need and have had a tough time throughout this period,” said David Brind, group manager.
There is hope, however, at least for charities with retail outlets. Julie recalls that at the end of the last lockdown, customers were happy to queue outside charity shops in order to offer their support, and hopes it will be the same the second time around.
“I believe people will come back out again when lockdown is lifted, but we don’t know what effect it will have on people’s jobs and finances,” she said.
Thames Hospice asks that residents support it by shopping on its eBay store or by participating in the Thames Hospice Santa Dash.
A spokesman from the Department for Media, Culture and Sport said: "We are providing an unprecedented multi-billion-pound package of support for charities. “Charities will continue to benefit from this major investment in the sector and the wider government financial support schemes in the coming months."
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