Posted on Friday 26 March 2021
CEO Rachel Kirby-Rider comment on pandemic emergency funding
Opinion piece, Rachel Kirby-Rider, CEO CLIC Sargent
It’s been almost a year since Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £750 million financial support package to help “charities who provide so much compassion, care and community to the most vulnerable in our country” weather the Covid-19 storm. The last year has been a time when our support has never been more needed, and we’ve coped with an unprecedented demand on our services, coupled with a devastating loss of income.
When Rishi Sunak made the announcement in April 2020, we knew that it would have to stretch incredibly far to help charities across the UK, but we were hopeful. However, the reality was we were met with silence every time we tried to find out how to access this funding. We’ve had to make some difficult decisions in order to protect our vital services which support children and young people with cancer. Our Social Care staff provide vital support, and every staff member plays their part, so the decision to furlough some staff, reduce hours and sadly, make redundancies were the toughest we’ve had to make.
Almost a year on, the National Audit Committee has published a report following an investigation into the £750m allocated to support charities during the pandemic. We were disappointed to learn that at least £95m has been awarded to charities without competition and are calling on the government to explain how the allocation process took place.
We are dismayed that we were not able to compete for this funding, despite supporting vulnerable young people, children and their families to navigate their way through cancer, during the pandemic. The lack of transparency over the allocation of this money is concerning and we hope the Public Accounts Committee, in their upcoming inquiry into this funding, look into how these decisions were made.
We also remain incredibly disappointed in the total amount of emergency charity funding offered by the government. It simply did not go far enough to support charities and, in turn, charity beneficiaries, during an incredibly challenging time. Applications for funding far exceeded the funding available – highlighting the huge need for support in the charity sector at the time. And this need hasn’t gone away, a year later and we are continuing to make difficult decisions to preserve our future and the crucial services we provide to children and young people with cancer.
As a result of the pandemic, CLIC Sargent experienced a £9m loss in income. We rely entirely on public donations and do not receive any Government funding. Much of our fundraised income comes through face-to-face events which, over the past year, have all been cancelled. A drop in donations was coupled with a 43% increase in the need for our services from March-October 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
Our services, which provide children and young people with emotional, practical and financial support throughout one of the most challenging times in their lives, are not ‘nice to have’ services, they are vital. They help keep families together during treatment and provide much-needed financial support to alleviate some of the burdens that come alongside a cancer diagnosis. Our front-line social workers have helped young people manage isolation and shielding and cope with appointments and treatment during the pandemic, and our Homes from Home staff have helped parents stay close to children while they undergo treatment.
Thanks to reshaping some of the ways we work, and taking measures such as furloughing staff and making redundancies, as well as the incredible support of members of the public, we’ve ensured we provide continued support for children and young people with cancer. However, we still continue to feel the financial pressure of the pandemic and remain concerned about what a lack of funding will mean for our charity and the sector going forward.
The children and young people we support have not only faced cancer, but have dealt with one of the most difficult times of their lives, amid a global pandemic. We urge the government not to forget young cancer patients who need our support now more than ever. We’ll continue to fight to ensure their voices are heard, but we can’t do this alone.
Notes to editors
For more information, an interview or images, please contact Kelli Hooks on 07771 830 960, or email Kelli.firstname.lastname@example.org.
About cancer in children and young people
Today, 12 more children and young people in the UK will hear the devastating news that they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.
About CLIC Sargent
When cancer strikes young lives CLIC Sargent helps families limit the damage cancer causes beyond their health. CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading charity for young cancer patients and their families. We provide specialist support, to help and guide each young cancer patient and their family. We will fight tirelessly for them, individually, locally and nationally. For more information, visit www.clicsargent.org.uk
Note to sub editors
Please note that the name ‘CLIC Sargent’ should not be abbreviated to CLIC, and that the word ‘CLIC’ should always appear in capitals, as above.
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