For a long time now we, as a sector, have been talking about how “agile” we are, how we can spin gold from straw and have big impact without big input. If ever that was in doubt, it certainly isn’t now.

COVID-19 has required all sectors to think differently about how they operate and deliver their services in different ways with very limited notice and, for the charity sector, very little resourcing!

As a charity leader and a passionate advocate for the sector I’m so proud of how we’ve stepped up. Charities that have spare capacity have been offering their support to vulnerable individuals, delivering food parcels, making telephone calls and coordinating the efforts of the thousands of everyday citizens that have suddenly signed up to to be part of the movement we’ve all been passionate about for so long.

Doncaster Alcohol Services is no exception to that. Although we’ve had to make the tough decision to stop all of our physical delivery of services (including a social space serving over 160 beneficiaries, a youth club, family recovery projects, physical activity projects, an allotment AND many more!), the team have rallied together to transfer most of these to digital delivery and did so with just 2 days’ notice. We have launched a digital version of our social space now supporting over 70 members in just a couple of weeks, converted our counselling offer to telephone and video calls and managed to transfer a family cooking project to a digital community.

As an organisation we’re very blessed to have the support of a vast number of amazing funders who have been very understanding of the situation, as well as a team of self-starters who have carried all this out without any guidance (mostly because I was half way across the world on an island in Cambodia!).

However, many organisations in our sector are not so lucky. Those that rely heavily on fundraising to generate unrestricted funding have been hit hardest by this situation, unable to rally support from new sponsors, host their fundraising events or gather traction from major donors who are moving their focus to short-term support. In the last few weeks many hundreds of charities have had to close their doors, some temporarily (whilst all staff are furloughed) and others for the last time.

Every closed door leaves a vacuum of support in local communities.

Many people have applauded the recent announcement of support for the charity sector but it’s a little bit too little and a little bit too late. The package of support for our sector is equivalent to 1% of the support being offered to the private sector.

Once again it will come down to us to demonstrate that we CAN be agile, we CAN spin gold from straw and we really CAN have big impact without big input. Hey, we’ve been doing it for the last however many years, what’s a pandemic to us really?