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Suffolk charities face ‘tsunami of issues’ in post-coronavirus future

PUBLISHED: 17:15 02 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:57 08 July 2020

The Open House debate looked at the challenges faced by the voluntary sector in Suffolk  Picture: ARCHANT

The Open House debate looked at the challenges faced by the voluntary sector in Suffolk Picture: ARCHANT

Archant © 2014

Suffolk charities and voluntary groups faces a “tsunami of issues” in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Tim Holder, head of public affairs at Suffolk Community Foundation. Picture: SIMON LEETim Holder, head of public affairs at Suffolk Community Foundation. Picture: SIMON LEE

That was the warning at this newspaper’s latest Open House webinar today, looking at the future of the sector.

Some of the county’s leading figures spoke about the issues faced.

There was praise for the outstanding job done in Suffolk in the last three months, responding to rising demand in communities. But a number of organisations revealed they had seen their income and volunteering workforce fall significantly during the past three months.

MORE: Donate to Suffolk’s Rebuilding Local Lives appeal, which has been backed by Ed Sheeran

Alan Braithwaite, from Sudbury and District Citizens Advice, said they saw an increase of 30% in the number of clients last month.

Tara Somers, chief executive of Home Start in Suffolk. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTHTara Somers, chief executive of Home Start in Suffolk. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

He added that charities across the county face a “tsunami of issues” coming later this year.

He said: “We have been hugely fortunate with our funding being maintained and that is mirrored by some but not by others and we are enormously sympathetic to the people who have lost funding.

“Our big concern is how to service this very rapid growth in demand. We could be seeing a 60% increase in demand in the autumn and of course many of our volunteers are vulnerable so we have an older group who volunteer and they are truly amazing but some of those are quite reluctant to come back to face to face.”

Panellists at the event were Tim Holder from Suffolk Community Foundation, Ann Osborn from Rural Coffee Caravan, Tim Roberts from Kelsale Parish Council, Tara Somers from Home Start in Suffolk, Patsy Johnson from Fresh Start New Beginnings, and Hannah Reid from Community Action Suffolk.

Ann Osborn, who runs The Rural Coffee Caravan.Ann Osborn, who runs The Rural Coffee Caravan.

Charities across Suffolk are now aiming to work together to ensure survival for as many of the thousands of charities and voluntary groups that are active in the county as possible.

A recent survey carried out by Community Action Suffolk found that of the organisations that responded, 47% were likely to face closure in a year and 95% said they needed up to £5,000 a month to keep going.

Hannah Reid, director of innovation and business development at Community Action Suffolk said: “It is worrying, we are looking at some pretty phenomenal figures for people to be able to continue responding in the way they have which has been so vital.”

“It is a real challenge that we are facing.”

Tim Holder, head of public affairs at Suffolk Community Foundation said: “I think one of the most hopeful things that has been said is that the relationship between the public sector and public funding is changing.

“They are now coming to the voluntary sector and not simply commissioning services but actually interacting with the expertise that our voluntary sector has.

“It’s important that we are all in this together and from our community foundation’s perspective, we want to be at the heart of that.”

Tim Roberts, Kelsale Cum Carlton parish councillor said: “We need to be creative and we need to think about how we can really lift our whole community in Suffolk. How do we make Suffolk the most caring county?”


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