The coronavirus outbreak is the most pressing and unprecedented public health emergency in a hundred years. On the frontline of this response are charities - providing support to vulnerable individuals throughout the whole of the UK.
On Wednesday, 8th April the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced a new £750 million package of support to ensure charities can continue their vital work during this coronavirus outbreak. This package recognises the crucial role that charities are playing in the national effort against coronavirus, and includes:
- £360 million to charities providing key services and supporting vulnerable people during the crisis.
- £370 million for small and medium-sized charities at the heart of local communities, who are making a big difference during the outbreak, including those delivering food, essential medicines and providing financial advice.
- Government commitment to ‘match-fund’ whatever the public decides to donate to the BBC’s “Big Night In” charity appeal on 23rd April; starting with a contribution of at least £20 million to the National Emergencies Trust Appeal.
This package of support for charities from the government is nearly 19 times larger than the package announced following the 2008 financial crash.
This clearly evidences this Government’s thanks and commitment to the charity sector for the exceptional job they are doing during these difficult and unprecedented times.
Alongside these announcements, on Sunday 12th April the International Development Secretary announced a package of almost £200 million to help UK charities and International Organisations reduce mass infections in developing countries which often lack the healthcare systems to track and halt the virus. This includes:
- £130 million for the new UN appeal;
- £50 million for the International Red Cross; and
- £20 million for International Non-Governmental Organisations (including UK charities).
This announcement brings the total amount of UK aid committed to the global fight against coronavirus to £744 million; making the UK one of the biggest donors to the international response.
This is vitally important given Covid-19 is indiscriminate and has no regard for borders. Health care experts have identified the weakness of developing countries’ healthcare systems as one of the biggest risks to the global spread of the virus. They have warned that if the virus is left to spread in developing countries, it could lead to the virus re-emerging in the UK later in the year and beyond, putting further pressure on our NHS. We are all in this together, meaning protecting health around the world is a good thing, both for those directly affected and also simultaneously for protecting the health of the British public.
Both these announcements clearly show our recognition of the superb work charities are doing both in communities throughout the UK - including here in Northampton - and globally in the fight against coronavirus.
Locally, Age UK Northamptonshire have been exceptional in supporting the vulnerable in delivering food to older residents via a team of volunteers. They can be reached by calling: 01604 611 200.
Similarly, the Northamptonshire County Council Community Resilient Service Coronavirus Support Team has more than ten thousand local volunteers signed up in order to help to shield, protect and support our most vulnerable residents, including helping get essential food to vulnerable people. They can be reached on the following helpline: 0300 126 1000 (option 5).