After a tough 2020, what awaits our charities in the years ahead?

Tim Holder from the Suffolk Community Foundation

Tim Holder from the Suffolk Community Foundation. - Credit: Gregg Brown

While 2020 has been such an extraordinary year for everyone, different sectors have had vastly different challenges to cope with over the last 12 months.

And the charity and voluntary sector has been both at the forefront of changes in society and also been left for face really tough financial struggles as the pandemic has changed life dramatically for everyone.

The Suffolk Community Foundation supports charities across the county - both small and relatively large organisations.

Tim Holder from the foundation said the last nine months had shown everyone the importance of their local communities - and there were many people who had come to rely on volunteers for help and support.

He said: "This has been a challenge for everyone, but people in Suffolk have shown they're determined to do what they can to get through this and we've seen a great deal of voluntary work being done in the communities."

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But there had been financial challenges for many charities - and these had been heightened by the pandemic. But Mr Holder did not think the pandemic itself was the reason for the loss of one of the county's biggest charity collapses.

Age Concern Suffolk ceased operation during the summer. Mr Holder said this had happened because of problems it had been dealing with before the pandemic hit.

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Other charities had had to adapt to new ways of working - and raising funds which has become more difficult as traditional events have not been able to take place in the new socially-distanced world.

That makes it more difficult to predict what will happen over the next year or so if socially-distancing rules are eased.

And Mr Holder was keen to stress people shouldn't be too worried about the future: "When we come out of this, it will have been something we will remember but just look at how people have come together! It's not all bad news!"

It is not just charitable and volunteering that has brought communities together - clapping for carers during the spring and early summer helped bring neighbourhoods together on their doorsteps.

While neighbours everywhere have helped people who are shielding to collect shopping or just keep an eye out for them - it has been the year that many people have rediscovered the meaning of community.

Will that discovery remain central to the way we live after the pandemic is over?

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