How helpful is the Chancellors Charity Support Package to rural communities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak? – April 2020

This is a question that remains on the lips of many rural community organisations and charities across the UK. Read what our national body ACRE have to say on this issue.

“ACRE has been working with NCVO and other national charities to help Government get to grips with the impact of COVID-19 on rural people and community organisations throughout England.

A priority for ACRE is the small charities and community organisations that exist in every rural community; especially those delivering essential support to vulnerable rural people.  The greatest concern is that vulnerable people were already at risk of isolation and loneliness before the government’s ‘lockdown’ measures were introduced. The current situation has only made life more difficult for those in need of support.

In the midst of a crisis of this kind it is understandable that maximum focus is being placed on the nation’s major urban centres, but are the 9.5 million people living in rural England, out of sight, and therefore out of mind?

Small rural community organisations and charities are heavily dependent on local events, fayres and other community-based fundraising.  They do not have the fundraising machinery or reserves that could help them survive the unforeseeable times we are living through; without fundraising, the future of those rural charities looks bleak.

The Chancellor’s support package is largely aimed at charities that are helping with the crisis and is, therefore, very welcome.  However, it will not help to sustain those whose viability is affected by the crisis.  A stark contrast to what has been done for profit making organisations in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.

David Emerson, Chair of ACRE said:

The lifeline that very local charities provided to those who are vulnerable, lonely and isolated in rural areas is being wrenched away by this crisis.  No amount of money will restore the warmth of close human contact these organisations can no longer provide, but it will take more than this limited financial commitment to ensure they are still there when the crisis is over.

ACRE remains fully operational throughout the pandemic and is committed to continue its work with other national charities, Government and DEFRA to make sure that England’s rural communities come out of this crisis in a healthier and more resilient state than when it started”.

Available for comment & interview:
Jeremy Leggett, Policy Lead, 07787 573658 j.leggett@acre.org.uk 

 

“Supporting rural communities in Sussex to be vibrant and diverse places in which to live and work.”