6th April 2020

Charities at risk of going bust during COVID-19 pandemic

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Almost three quarters of charities will collapse before the end of the year if they do not receive financial help, a new survey by the training and publishing charity the Directory of Social Change has revealed.

According to the research 50 per cent of charities surveyed are already in financial difficulties, with a further 42 per cent expecting to be in financial trouble in the near future, unless the situation changes.

With major fundraising events cancelled or postponed as well as social distancing putting an end to traditional fundraising, it is estimated the charity sector will lose £4bn of income over the next three months.

Despite this huge shortfall, only 7 per cent of the charities responding to the survey said they qualified for help under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Almost half said they were ineligible. As a result, nearly two thirds of charities, including Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, are having to furlough staff to try to minimise the financial impact the coronavirus.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, comments:

“As a charity, we are in a very worrying and vulnerable financial situation, at a time when the people we are here to help need us more than ever.

People with lung cancer are clearly one of the most at risk groups of serious illness should they contract COVID-19. As a result, difficult decisions are being made as patients and their medical teams weigh up the risk of having treatment or not in the current climate.

This all leads to much uncertainty, anxiety and fear.”

Tony is living with stage four lung cancer and brain and kidney mets:

“I’m a pretty positive guy but I am extremely worried about the situation. I’m worried my next scan will be cancelled. I’m worried about the prioritization of ventilators. I’m worried that coronavirus will become a priority over cancer and that resources will be diverted from the treatment of cancer and patients will suffer and, probably, die prematurely.”

Tony, living with incurable lung cancer

Since the pandemic, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation has responded immediately and adapted its services to ensure those living with lung cancer are supported throughout the pandemic.

“Calls to our Ask the Nurse service are at their highest levels,” Paula explains. “Patients are asking questions directly about COVID-19, as well as the impact it is having on their treatment. This service is so important at the moment, not only to lung cancer patients but also on relieving the pressure on the NHS 111 service.

Vicky, one of our lung cancer nurse, is working from home

“Given their vulnerability, people with lung cancer are being asked to shield for a minimum of 12 weeks. This brings a whole host of other concerns, including such practical worries about how they will get their food shopping and collect medication. This is of particular concern to those who are living alone.

In response to this, we have launched our new Keep in Touch Support Service. The service is for people with lung cancer and their carers, with priority given to those who are socially isolated and would like some extra contact.

Those who sign up to the service will receive a call from one of our support team to have a chat and offer information if they are experiencing any difficulties. If they need clinical or practical support, we will put them in touch with the right services.

We launched the service at the same time as we made the difficulty, but unavoidable decision, to furlough some of our staff. Remaining staff are now pulling together to ensure we continue to meet the demand for all our services and help those who need us.

But we need help too and so we are echoing fellow charities in their pleas to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, the Treasury and other decision-makers in government. They must understand the gravity of the situation and act now to provide swift, substantial and simple emergency financial support for the charity sector. Without it, many of us simply won’t be here at the end of all this.”

Sasha Langford is living with incurable lung cancer. She has used the charity’s Ask the Nurse service many times:

“Living with lung cancer means constantly living in fear of the unknown. You are in constant fear that your cancer might spread, or your treatment has stopped working.

COVID-19 has magnified this fear and the longer the pandemic continues, the more likely my treatment will be affected. 

Fortunately, I have a really good support system, including my Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation family. I can’t tell you how reassuring it is to know they are there. I know if I have any question, the Ask the Nurse service will find the answer and that, despite everything that is happening as a result of COVID-19, they are still in my corner.

I would be devastated if they weren’t here anymore. It would be like my lifeline had been taken away.”