Charity engagement with government needed now more than ever

During this time of huge challenge for the charity sector there have been some real positives and we’ve seen impressive progress made in a short space of time in some policy areas. For example, local authorities moved rapidly to put rough sleepers into safe accommodation in hotels and the crisis has prompted a welcome a shift in attitudes toward previously undervalued sectors such as social care.

However, this does not conceal that this is a devastating time for many charities, who are struggling to survive with fundraising events cancelled and charity shops shut. In addition, previous statutory obligations towards vulnerable people have been dropped and disability campaigners have warned people could be deprived of vital care. Meanwhile, research into a range of vital areas of healthcare is understandably on hold and research funders have announced a fall in revenue.

Since the crisis hit, Principle has been working with charities to get their voices heard and now, with the government expecting us to be living with COVID-19 and social distancing for the foreseeable future, we’re also helping organisations to shape the ‘new normal’.

We’ve been working with St John Ambulance to provide advice and support for their engagement with the government and parliamentarians as their volunteers step forward to support the NHS response to COVID-19.  We are delighted that some financial support for their work was announced by Rishi Sunak during a recent press conference, and we are continuing to support their vital work.

We also helped RAIRDA (the Rare Autoimmune Rheumatic Disease Alliance) raise patients’ concerns about guidance about who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 with parliamentarians and the media. The Guardian and Daily Mail covered patients’ concerns that they were unable to get hold of key medication being used in trials to treat COVID-19 and these issues have been resolved for now.

MHA is the largest charity provider of residential care homes and have been one of the most outspoken voices in the social care sector about the impact of COVID-19. We’re proud to support their work liaising with MPs and Peers to ensure their staff and residents receive the protection, support and recognition they need.

We’ve continued to support We Belong by mentoring and supporting their new Parliamentary Officer as they campaign for young migrants to receive fair treatment during and beyond this crisis.

With the Alcohol Health Alliance, we are supporting the Commission for Alcohol Harm, which looks to be even more pertinent as members of the alliance warn of a potential increase in alcohol harms due to the lockdown and as attention turns to how we can improve individual and societal health following the COVID-19 outbreak.

The people The Hepatitis C Trust supports can be some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and we’ve been able to help them keep on top of developments, support patients where they can and prepare for a renewed drive to eliminate hepatitis C when the crisis abates.

Despite all that has been thrown at them, charities are still shaping policy to support their beneficiaries and mobilising their supporters. Charity support for, and activism on behalf of, their beneficiaries is needed now more than ever, and people are looking for ways to make sense of the world and help others. Whether it’s by clapping for carers, signing up to volunteer for the NHS or simply staying home to stop the spread, people have shown they want to take action.

Can we help you with pro-bono strategy sessions?

During this time of change, new problems will arise quickly and without warning but there are plenty of opportunities to raise these issues with your representatives and policy makers. Last week Parliament returned from recess with MPs and Peers joining debates using video calling for the first time. Select Committees have been running and providing invaluable scrutiny throughout recess.

If your organisation urgently needs support to push for lasting change from government, we are ready to support you and your team. If you know of a small charity (with an annual income below £1 million) that is in need of support, we offer four pro-bono strategy sessions a year for small charities completely free of charge and would love to provide advice to organisations that need support during this time.

If you’d like to talk more about how we can help, get in touch with Jane, one of our directors via jane@principleconsulting.org.uk.