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Call for support for front-line charities and social services

By Ann Marie Foley - 18 March, 2020

Charities need urgent funds to maintain key health services and community work. This is according to The Wheel, the national association of charities, which has called on Irish people and companies to help fund these voluntary organisations on the front line during the COVID-19 crisis.

The organisation also welcomed the government’s National Action Plan in response to COVID-19, which was published on 16 March, saying it will work with the government in coming days to support and clarify details of the plan.

“The government very clearly acknowledge community and voluntary organisations will be at the heart of the State’s coordinated response to COVID-19,” said Deirdre Garvey, CEO, The Wheel. “It is important, therefore that these organisations can contribute their expertise to planning and decision-making,” she added.

Charities provide approximately one-quarter of acute hospital services and approximately two-thirds of services to people with disabilities, so they are an integral part of the overall system.

The Wheel represents over 1700 of these organisations and social enterprises countrywide. It noted that they are struggling, for example, as Church gate collections have been suspended indefinitely, meaning many local charities and community groups have been left without funds for services.

“A combination of surging demand and collapse of normal fundraising income means that charities need public support right now to an unprecedented extent,” said Deirdre Garvey.

Organisations like St Vincent de Paul and rural community groups providing support to those suffering immediate poverty from unemployment because of COVID-19 also need help. Tens of thousands of people are out of work and their jobs and income are at risk.

“Our charities and community groups will be facing unprecedented demands to support people in these distressing times,” Deirdre Garvey stated.

She urged those who are lucky to have secure employment and income at the moment to donate to organisations providing services such as meals on wheels, homeless services, carer supports, and poverty relief.

“In the spirit of social solidarity, it is important for all of us to rise to the developing challenges, supporting our charities and community and voluntary organisations in their vital work,” she said.

The Wheel also stated that people who cannot donate could volunteer so the charities can continue to work effectively. “It will take all of us working together to come through this.”

The Wheel highlighted that the Irish Cancer Society is down a projected €4m, having cancelled Daffodil Day, and Pieta House faces a shortfall of up to €6m because of the postponement of its Darkness to Light fundraiser.

Ireland’s national online volunteering database can be accessed by downloading the I-Vol app to your smartphone or at www.i-vol.ie. Some 28.4 per cent of adults in Ireland volunteer – that is more than quarter of the population (1 million people). The number of people employed by registered charities is 188,000.

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