Following the Greater Manchester COVID-19 Emergency Committee meeting today, it was announced by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Deputy Mayor Baroness Beverley Hughes that more support has been provided for voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises (VCSE) to help them deal with the challenges of coronavirus.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Forever Manchester have provided £200,000 of funding for local VCSE organisations providing access to food to those who need it. All ten districts in Greater Manchester will receive £20,000 each. Forever Manchester’s £100,000 fund comes from the National Emergency Trust which has been match funded by the GMCA.

The funding has been made in response to pressures faced by foodbanks in Greater Manchester, in particular the need for additional funding to purchase food to meet increased demand and mitigate cash flow issues.

GMCA and Forever Manchester will be working with the 10GM VCSE partners to identify recipient organisations in each borough. Funding for organisations responding to the issues caused by COVID-19 is additionally available from Forever Manchester through the Community Support Fund.

Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes said: “I’ve made this funding available to help our most vulnerable in Greater Manchester access the most basic of necessities: food.

“It’s right that leaders across the city-region identify gaps where support is needed and I’ve heard how our foodbanks are struggling with cash flow at a time when demand is high. I hope this funding will provide some respite to the local VCSE sector and I will be looking at what more we can do to provide food supplies to those who need it.

“I would also urge the public to support their local foodbanks with cash or donations or to donate to Forever Manchester.”

Nick Massey, Chief Executive, Forever Manchester, said: “This is a tough time for everyone but more so for those who are most vulnerable. I’m heartened to see how Greater Manchester’s VCSE sector has risen to the challenge to do what they can to help, but they can’t do it all on their own. That’s why we’ve provided funding to foodbanks so they can carry on with the important work they’re doing.”

#EveryDayCounts

In further support for the VCSE sector, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has backed the #EveryDayCounts campaign, calling on the government to provide an urgent funding package for them.

The sector is a key partner in the response to the COVID-19 crisis and many have been working around the clock to provide frontline support to help those who need it. However, their fundraising and trading income has dried up just as the need for their support has increased.

Greater Manchester is home to nearly 16,000 voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises working to tackle inequalities and improve the lives of local people. The sector employs around 42,500 people and has a turnover of £1.3bn.

As well as foodbanks, many VCSE organisations are reporting increased pressure on services – advice services, mental health services, housing and financial support are all in demand. However, after a decade of underfunding, many are now operating with low or very low levels of financial reserves and are reporting worries about cash flow and medium to long term sustainability.

There is also a disparate picture when it comes to resilience and business continuity planning as many smaller voluntary sector organisations are not geared up for working at home, rely heavily on volunteers and use face to face ways of working. Some are finding that their usual work is less relevant in the current situation and have to make a difficult choice between changing what they do or going into a period of shutdown where many staff are furloughed.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership have produced a joint statement for the VCSE sector, valuing its importance and pledging to do everything they can to support them. This includes supporting their financial situations through, for example, more regular or upfront payment of existing grants where they can and ‘rolling over’ recurrent grants for next year without the need for formal applications.

The GMCA has also proactively stepped in to help where it can. For example, Greater Manchester Citizens Advice Bureaux have had to cease all face to face advice sessions in light of social distancing rules, and are moving towards online and telephone methods of support. The charity is experiencing a surge in demand for advice on Statutory Sick Pay and Universal Credit claims and they are expecting demand to grow over the next few months for advice on debt, evictions and homelessness. The GMCA has provided funding to Citizens Advice Greater Manchester to develop a new out of hours service for all residents of Greater Manchester to access.

VCSE sector bodies have made initial estimates that nationally, the sector will miss out on a minimum of £4.3bn of income over the coming 12 weeks, though the figure could be far higher. Many will also face increased costs as part of their role in tackling the outbreak.

The #EveryDayCounts campaign is calling on government to provide:

  • emergency funding for frontline charities and volunteers supporting the response to the coronavirus crisis, especially where they are alleviating pressure on the health service or providing support to people suffering from the economic and social impact of coronavirus
  • a ‘stabilisation fund’ for all charities to help them stay afloat, pay staff and continue operating during the course of the pandemic
  • confirmation that charities should be eligible for similar business interruption measures announced by the chancellor for businesses.

Mayor Andy Burnham said: “The VCSE sector are an integral partner in the Greater Manchester response to the COVID-19 crisis in supporting our most vulnerable communities. At the same time they are struggling financially as they try and support the humanitarian effort, cope with increased demand and reorganise their ways of working – all while their usual sources of public fundraising are cut off due to social distancing rules.

“Through our statement, we’ve committed to doing our bit to help and proactively providing funding where possible. But we also need the government to provide a funding package for the survival of VCSE organisations now – just like they’ve done with the private and public sectors. That’s why I’m backing the #EveryDayCounts campaign for a settlement for the VCSE sector.”

Alex Whinnom, Chief Executive, Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisations (GMCVO), said: “The sector is crying out for help to keep afloat so we can keep doing what we can when we are needed the most. There are many charities and voluntary groups in Greater Manchester having to furlough staff because they don’t have the income they need to keep going, yet they are overwhelmed with demand for their services and can’t meet everyone’s needs. I urge the government to give us the funding we desperately need so we can play our part and come out of this health crisis stronger together.”

You can donate to Forever Manchester on the website (opens new page).


Article Published: 08/04/2020 15:48 PM