SUFFOLK’S CAUSES FEAR DEVASTATING COVID FALLOUT, SURVEY REVEALS

DOZENS of Suffolk’s charities, community buildings and voluntary sector organisations say they are bracing themselves for huge financial shortfalls – and the prospect of permanent closure.

This is the disturbing summary which has emerged from Community Action Suffolk’s second ‘Covid 19 Impact Survey’, which was distributed to an audience of organisations and community groups around the region.

Of those responding to the survey – a mix of 80 charities, community groups and social enterprises – 47% declared they would most likely face closure within 12 months if further help could not be found for them soon.

Despite 54% having been able to access some kind of grant support, loan, or make use of the furlough scheme, the respondents reflected significant fears around income and funding sustainability.

A total of 49% said they would need this money to support their ‘core’ (running) costs. Since being surveyed last month, more said they were concerned about meeting the cost of paying critical premises bills, and supporting new ways of working.

Suffolk’s surveyed organisations also stressed fears about retaining and recruiting volunteers during this critical phase of the pandemic, and noted the strain and complication which is being placed on delivering for and to clients while social distancing measures are in force.

Chris Abraham, CEO of Community Action Suffolk, said: “Our latest survey findings are a clear reflection of the sense of fear and frustration which is being felt – not only by our more formal charities, but across the sector, including those who run our vital community buildings, village halls and rural groups.

“The drop-off in events and community engagement has hit many of these organisations very hard, and will continue to do so, at the very time that their services and resource are in more demand than ever. We simply do not know how long social distancing will continue for, but all the time it does, we can be sure the impact on the sector will be felt.”

She added: “I join with many of my peers across the sector – both regionally and nationally – in wanting to see some element of sustainability fund solution for our wonderful causes and organisations who deliver so much.”

For updates and advice for the voluntary sector during the pandemic, you can visit a designated area of the Community Action Suffolk website at https://www.communityactionsuffolk.org.uk/covid-19-response/