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Seven Million Expect To Seek Charity Support In The Next Year Due To Pandemic


Seven Million Expect To Seek Charity Support In The Next Year Due To Pandemic


National Emergencies Trust announces funds for charity helplines playing vital role

One in eight people living in the UK – equivalent to seven million people – expect to seek support from a charity or voluntary body in the next 12 months as a direct result of challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. The research released today by the National Emergencies Trust (NET) reveals that for three in five of these people (61%), it will be the first time they have ever sought charitable support.


The research, conducted by Opinium, suggests that demand on the third sector is set to continue as the economic impacts of the pandemic come to the fore. Getting help with living arrangements due to financial reasons (58%) and employment support and training due to job loss (51%) are the most common reasons that people expecting to need outside help will seek charitable assistance[i]. More than one in three (38%)[ii] anticipate they’ll need help accessing food due to changes in financial circumstances.


The health and wellbeing impacts of the pandemic also continue to cause concern. Just over half (51%) of those who anticipate seeking external support[iii] expect to ask for charitable help with nursing and personal care, 44% with caring responsibilities and 35% with support for their own mental wellbeing.


The research is revealed as the National Emergencies Trust announces it will be distributing £12million from its Coronavirus Appeal to new charity partners offering targeted support to first-time charity users and some of the UK’s most at risk groups. Each charity partner has been selected for its support for a group that NET believes may have been underserved through the pandemic so far.


The first wave of funding, just over £6 million, will be distributed to a disability support network, DPO COVID-19 Coalition, led by Disability Action NI, the LGBT+ Consortium Helpline Alliance, domestic abuse charity, Refuge, the refugee and asylum seekers support consortium led by Refugee Council and Cruse Bereavement Care. The funding will be used to support vital helplines to assist those who are unsure where to turn, as well as other very targeted services.


Since March, the NET’s Coronavirus Appeal has raised £90 million and allocated £85 million so far. In addition to the £12 million allocated to these new national charity partners, £68.25 million has been distributed through Community Foundations UK-wide – with £250,000 reserved for BAME charities and infrastructure. A further £2.75 million has been allocated to BAME-led charities and communities through Comic Relief, and £2 million more is ringfenced for BAME charities.


More than 4,400 individual grassroots charities and groups have received a total of 9,400 grants.


Targeted Support for the UK’s Most At Risk Groups

“This pandemic has created new needs on an unprecedented scale, and exacerbated existing challenges. Local, grassroots groups have been incredibly quick to respond, as we have seen through our partnership with UK Community Foundations. Our new partners complement these efforts by targeting support to at-risk groups who have been harder to reach so far.

“Helplines play a key part in the new partnerships because they offer accessible help to those unsure where to turn, or unable to access other services. Our partners’ helplines have already been oversubscribed because of the pandemic and our research suggests that this demand will continue, as more people seek support from the sector for the first time.”

Gerald Oppenheim

Deputy-Chair of the National Emergencies Trust

Helpline data from the new partners highlights the sharp uplift in need since the start of the pandemic. Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline, one of the members of the LGBT+ Consortium Helpline Alliance, has reported a 35% uplift in calls compared to the previous year, with a 42% increase in requests for help from trans and non-binary people specifically. Refuge reported more than 40,000[iv] calls and contacts since the start of lockdown.


These spikes in demand align with NET’s research findings that one in six (16%) UK adults have already sought charitable help in recent months as a result of the pandemic. For 70% of these people, it was the first time they had received support of this kind.


In addition to the helpline services, some funds will be used to connect people to support in other ways, be that virtual or practical assistance, or signposting to other community services.



“As a member of both NET’s Allocations Committee and Equity Scrutiny Group, I am acutely aware of the real responsibility we have to fairly distribute the funds raised across the UK. No community can be left behind, and we are committed to helping those disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus crisis.”

Vicky Rosin

NET Trustee

“Our eight partners across the UK have all seen significant increases to the demand on their helplines. LGBT+ people are already disproportionately affected by issues including negative mental health and domestic abuse. This has only increased during the pandemic with many in our communities struggling with living in difficult lockdown situations where they cannot be “out” or have had issues with accessing vital medications. Evidence shows that LGBT+ people want support from organisations that understand their lived experiences, so we are delighted to be supported by NET and ensure support remains available to as many LGBT+ people as possible.”

Paul Roberts

Chief Executive of LGBT+ Consortium

“We are delighted to receive this very substantial and timely National Emergencies Trust grant award. It will enable us to reach out and provide a vital lifeline to many marginalised refugees and people seeking asylum whose vulnerability have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Working closely with our partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, we will deliver an emergency infoline for those needing immediate, practical support; enhance our capacity to assist those in temporary accommodation because of the virus; and extend our provision of specialist, trauma-informed, mental health care for children and adults in the asylum system.   

“The people who come to us for help are some of the most disadvantaged in our communities, and the least able to cope with the practical and psychological challenges of the pandemic. We’ve seen a significant increase in demand for our services since lockdown began, including a 20% increase in referrals to our specialist mental health services compared to pre-Covid levels, a 140% increase in calls to the Scottish Refugee Council helpline, and the Refugee Council has seen more than a three-fold increase in destitution referrals.”

Maurice Wren

Chief Executive of the Refugee Council

“Refuge welcomes the opportunity provided by the National Emergencies Trust to collaborate with NEXUS NI, Scottish Women’s Aid and Welsh Women’s Aid to increase the support available for survivors of domestic abuse across all nations of the UK through our vital Helpline services.

“Covid-19 and the lockdown have created additional challenges and suffering for those experiencing domestic abuse. Our 24-hour confidential helplines provide vital practical information, a gateway to specialist services and much-needed emotional support to the growing number of individuals reaching out at this difficult time.  Now, as lockdown measures ease, our services are needed more than ever. With NET’s support, our national Helplines can respond to this growing need as we all continue to navigate the Covid-19 crisis.”

Lisa King

Director of communications and external relations, Refuge

“We are delighted to have received this funding from the National Emergencies Trust. Many more people have been bereaved over the last few months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This means that bereavement support is more important now than ever.

 “The death of someone close can be one of the most distressing things any of us will face, and we want to be there for anyone who needs us. The funding from the National Emergencies Trust will enable us to continue increasing capacity on our National Helpline, reach a wider audience, as well as be more accessible those most in need. This also includes specific funding to increase the diversity of our volunteers and clients.”

Steven Wibberley

Chief Executive of Cruse Bereavement Care

“What has become clear, from Disability Action’s COVID-19 survey, is the feeling of many disabled people that their voices are being lost in the noise or worse, simply ignored, in the confusion that is unfolding from COVID-19. The opportunity of this consortium to come together to provide direct support to grassroots DPO’s (Disabled Peoples Organisations) across the UK, to ensure they are strengthened and sustained to provide vital advice and support, will enable local action for local needs.

“NET’s principles of directing this funding to bodies representing groups highly impacted by COVID-19 based on a human rights approach is to be welcomed. “

Andrea Brown

Chief Executive, Disability Action NI

(i) The bases for these questions are people who said they anticipate needing help on this particular issue over the next 12 months because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Respondents were first asked if they anticipated seeking external support over the next 12 months because of the Coronavirus pandemic for any reasons (they were shown a list, and selected the issues they anticipated needing support for). In a follow up question, respondents were shown the issues they selected, and for each one, asked who they would anticipate turning to for this support.


(ii) This 38% anticipate needing external support


(iii) As in footnote 1, the bases for these questions are people who said they anticipate needing help on this particular issue over the next 12 months because of the Coronavirus pandemic.


(iv) This includes people accessing the ‘live chat’ service