Charities adapting in response to the coronavirus crisis

  • Life has been turned upside down for everyone since March
  • All charities have had to work out how best to respond to the pandemic
  • Three small charities share their experience here

As part of our response to the coronavirus pandemic, we gave three months free insurance cover to some of our charity insurance customers. Three of them share how they have been supporting their communities through the coronavirus pandemic and what the free cover meant to them.

Cystic Fibrosis Care are fundraising to provide hardship grants to vulnerable people with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Northwood Hills Residents’ Association mobilised their local communication channels to support residents and Bowness Community Group turned a pub into a community hub to distribute food.

Cystic Fibrosis Care

Patricia Kilpatrick, Director of Cystic Fibrosis Care said: “Our work supports people with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Those with CF are in the vulnerable category and have had to self-isolate with their families for 12 weeks. CF is a lifelong, life-shortening genetic condition that slowly destroys the lungs and digestive system.

“Covid-19 has had a huge impact on how people with CF live. For many it can be a desperate situation and we get requests for help every week.

“Zurich gave us three months free insurance, recognising that Covid-19 was likely to impact our funding. Thanks to saving money on the insurance premium we were able to increase our hardship/welfare grants. We’ve helped people in stressful situations such as:

  • A 13-year-old boy who was not coping with lockdown had little family support, was not eating properly and was missing his friends and in poor health. We funded an approved child psychologist to provide therapy for 10 sessions.
  • A newborn with CF and serious bowel problems was in hospital. The family didn’t own a car so the dad had to use public transport to get to the nearest CF specialist hospital 100 miles away. We supported with travel costs so he could visit the hospital daily, returning home to carry out vital physiotherapy and medications with his other child also with CF.
  • A family with a three-month old baby with CF were struggling. The mum was on low pay maternity leave and dad lost his job in February. Our emergency grant helped them through a crisis for several weeks until benefits were paid.

“We have done our best to keep the charity open during these challenging times. Like all charities, we have seen a drop in our income and we have been looking for new fundraising ideas. We created virtual events which anyone could take part in. The first virtual run in April raised £6500! This will provide over 20 individual grants to patients. We are currently launching our second virtual event taking place during June, a nationwide Cystic Fibrosis Care Cycle Challenge.

“We are also working to provide 400 vital facemasks to patients. The masks we provide will offer 99.99% protection against harmful bacteria. They are reusable, can be washed 100 times, have reusable filters and are comfortable to wear. We’d like to provide masks to all UK patients, but we need to do much more fundraising, raising awareness and hopefully find some corporate support.

“We are planning ahead for the long-term impact of this pandemic. The masks and grants will be vital for many.”

Northwood Hills Residents’ Association

The Northwood Hills Residents’ Association in Hillingdon, North West London are supporting the local community and raising funds for the local NHS. They were also given three months free insurance cover and Andrew Riley, BEM Chairman tells us more about how they are supporting their community. Andrew said, “The Northwood Hills ward has the highest aged population over the age of 50 in the borough. When the lockdown was announced it was a no-brainer that we needed to do something dynamic to support the community.

“Very quickly, we made our Facebook page open to anyone so we could widely share important information. Membership has doubled and residents have formed a number of WhatsApp groups at street level, linking neighbours together. We are trying to support these and are encouraging people to use them to keep in touch with isolated, vulnerable neighbours.

We partnered with two local charities who had established storage and delivery networks, which meant they could deliver food to those in need. We also switched our subscription collecting method to online and have pledged to donate the total (in excess of £1150 to date) to a local NHS project.

“At the last minute we had to cancel the latest edition of our 60-page magazine that we distribute twice a year. We also had to postpone our Annual General Meeting and have not been able to hold any Committee Meetings in person. Instead, the Committee is in regular dialogue by email and we are making good progress.

“As our annual events have been cancelled, we are not spending our usual funds. We are thinking about how best to use these and considering funding post-lockdown celebrations to boost everyone’s spirits. But only when it is safe to do so and in line with Government guidelines.”

Bowness Community Group

Bowness Community Group on the Solway Firth in North West England formed a support group based around the local pub. Bill Knowles, trustee director explains more: “Volunteers cover the villages and farms around the area. They do shopping and deliver to locked-in households requesting help. In our area over 70’s make up more than 20% of residents.

“With our funds, the saving we made on our insurance plus a grant from Cumbria Community Foundation we have been able to purchase protective gloves and equipment to use at the rural “pub hub”. We deliver food, drink and other necessities.

“We recently raised local spirits with an “afternoon tea” pack dropped at every household’s doorstep. Volunteers also post a fortnightly news-sheet full of fact and helpful hints through each door.

“By running video quizzes and get togethers we have helped people to stay socially engaged. A local resident mental health specialist provides one-to-one confidential online support and help for anyone suffering from depression or loneliness via the “hub” too.

We are all in this together and together we believe we will sustain and emerge a stronger united community.”