Coronavirus: How cash has helped charities in Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport and Havant through the pandemic and their concerns for the future

CHARITIES have spoken out about the lifeline grants that have saved them during the coronavirus pandemic but have raised concerns about funding for the future.

By Millie Salkeld
Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 7:00 am
Cameron McGeehan was heavily involved in Pompey's community effort during his Fratton Park loan spell
Cameron McGeehan was heavily involved in Pompey's community effort during his Fratton Park loan spell

More than £800,000 is thought to have been pumped into charities and voluntary organisations across Portsmouth, Fareham, Gosport and Havant since the coronavirus outbreak in March, according to data from 360 Giving.

But while the cash has seen groups through hard times, many are worried about where future funds may come from.

Gosport Voluntary Action received nearly £90,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund to help the team coordinate its response to Covid-19 including employing more staff to help more people and getting equipment to work remotely.

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Five-year-old Ivy Plested is part of the family at Fareham's Rainbow Centre, and spends time there with older brother Oliver and baby sister Flora

Chair Ian Reeves said: ‘Being a voluntary organisation we were able to scale up quickly to help when the lockdown came in and the money has meant we can support as many people as possible and not dip too much into our reserves, although we have had to use some which of course is what it is there for.

‘Going forward we are having to look at our business plan again and I think we are concerned about future sources of funding as councils and organisations seek to recover from coronavirus.’

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BBC Children in Need donated £2,400 to the Rainbow Centre in Fareham, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, to help staff provide specialist education virtually for children and adults with a range of neurological conditions.

Founder Helen Somerset-How told The News: ‘At a stroke, all of our traditional methods of fundraising were gone; our charity shops closed, corporate funding dried up as those companies fought for their own survival and community fundraising stopped as soon as lockdown happened.

‘I'm so proud of the small team of people we did not furlough; every one of them took on far more responsibility and stepped up to the challenge of finding new ways of working.

‘We delivered virtual sessions and we kept everyone connected and provided structure to their otherwise unstructured days.’

But Helen says the future for the centre, and other charities, is unclear.

‘She added: Even with the financial support and the restructuring that has been necessary, our long-term future is still uncertain as it will be with all charities until traditional fundraising can once more take place and who knows when that will be.

‘We can only hope that funders continue to be sympathetic to the plight all charities find themselves in and continue to throw us lifelines over the next year.

Portsmouth FC’s charity arm, Pompey in the Community was one of 100 UK charities that got a £100,000 donation from Barclays to help them support the community in the pandemic and it also got £73,000 from the Department of Education.

More than 4,600 people have benefited from PiTC’s food parcel deliveries and the additional funding will allow the team to enhance its socially distanced activities such as ‘pop up’ afternoon tea, hot meal deliveries and interactive Zoom sessions.

Clare Martin, director of community projects at Pompey in the Community, said: ‘This funding has really supported us in providing the city such a vital and impactful service during the pandemic.

‘Our provision is continually developing in direct response to the needs of the city and the continually evolving situation. It’s been a real privilege to be able to support so many people and thanks to Barclays, we look forward to continuing to do so.’

Portsmouth Rape and Abuse Counselling Service received more than £20,000 from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and BBC Children in Need.

Director Kim Hosier added: ‘The funds meant we could carry on helping our clients over the phone and through video, which although not the same as seeing someone face-to-face, was important.

‘With the new restrictions we have had to hire out centres for our group sessions as our rooms aren’t big enough for social distancing which has added costs as well but we have had people doing a fundraising challenge for us at home to help us through as well.

‘We are hoping to return to our centre soon and get back to fundraising properly to help us for the future.’

Helping the area of PO9 through the pandemic was the Munch project at Park Community School, which got £58,550 from The National Lottery Community Fund. The team prepared 100 meals a day which were put in fridge and freezer for anyone in need to take.

Headteacher Chris Anders said: ‘I think it helped a lot of people and we didn't keep a close eye on who took what so when people needed help they could just access it.

‘Going forward I think there is going to be more competition for less funding grants and it is up to the people giving the funding to decide which projects fit with what they want to see.’

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