In the week since socially distant Eid celebrations took place, warm weather also marked the beginning of the easing of lockdown restrictions; with the country given a glimpse into what will be a summer unlike any other we have seen. With uncertainty being the only certainty, we consider the news and updates affecting charities, large and small, over the last week.

With many of our updates over recent weeks highlighting the challenges that have emerged from lockdown, we are now seeing a trend of charities grappling with the challenge of emerging from lockdown itself.

Stuck between a rock and a promenade place

In an open letter last week, RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, highlighted the impossible position that the charity had been put in by the easing of lockdown restrictions. Having had the same degree of notice of changes as the general public, the RNLI were unable to safely staff busy beaches with lifeguards in the charity’s busiest weekend for emergency response calls so far this year.

Dowie explained that RNLI needs time to properly train lifeguards to give treatment in a Covid-safe way and to acquire the specialist PPE required for lifeguards; standard face masks and visors are simply not fit for purpose for those manning the coastline.

The letter gives a frank account of the practical challenges that the charity faces in adapting to life after lockdown. It comes at a time when RNLI reported that it expects to see a £45m drop in its funding this year, with as much as 80% of the charity’s funding coming from donations and now Government-restricted fundraising efforts.

Domestic abuse inquiry witnesses’ plea to Parliament

A number of domestic abuse and women’s charities have signed a letter requesting that witnesses called to give evidence to Parliament as part of the proposed Domestic Abuse Bill may do so remotely.

The plea explains that both witnesses and staff, and particularly those from BAME backgrounds disproportionately affected by Covid-19, will be placed at unnecessary risk if they are obliged to give evidence to the Parliamentary Committee in person.

Many of the witnesses have no choice but to use public transport to attend Parliament this week, which the charities say simply cannot be done safely, and have asked the Speaker of the House of Commons to permit the same remote working as much of Parliament has used over recent months.

School’s in for summer

The Department for Education has again updated its guidance to schools, colleges and other academic institutions as part of its efforts to reopen the education sector.

New guidance for churches

We have updated our comprehensive advice guide for church clients, reflecting on updates, news and emerging issues relevant to the church community. Grab a cup of tea and download our bespoke advice from the bottom of this page.

Income streams forecasted to dry up

Access to funding remains a key concern for charities in the wake of the initial shock of Covid-19. Macmillan Cancer Support, for example, revealed last week that it expects a £95m drop in proceeds from fundraising this year; 40% less than it had previously forecasted to receive.

There are also strong warnings about the effects of Covid-19 on the clothes recycling, or ‘rag’, supply chain; a revenue stream that many charities are reliant on. A forecasted over-supply of clothing donations and already stretched storage capacity means that the wholesale price of rag is expected to plummet, forcing many charities to diversify their income streams in a challenging economy.

Further cash injections for charities feeling the effects of Covid-19

Some good news, then, that the National Lottery Community Fund is now accepting applications for funding from its £200m emergency fund. Charities are advised to apply sooner rather than later, as funding will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. You can apply here.

Government has also announced a welcome further £150m package of targeted emergency funding, £71m of which will be allocated from dormant bank accounts. The funding will go straight to tackling youth unemployment, and to organisations that provide emergency loans to charities and affordable credit to the most vulnerable members of society.

Updates from last week’s round-up

The past seven days have seen a number of updates to our previous charities round up, which you can read again here.

  • Following Government’s announcement asking individuals, organisations and public authorities to act fairly, responsibly, and in the national interests in performing and enforcing contracts, we have released an in-depth ebriefing on what this means for our clients. You can read our ebriefing here.
  • We also reported on the introduction of ministerial taskforces charged with planning the reopening of key sectors, including places of worship. The snappily named ‘places of worship’ taskforce has since met (virtually) for the first time to discuss its plans to achieve Government’s ambition to reopen places of worship, which it is warned will be no earlier than 4 July 2020 and subject to scientific advice. One member of the taskforce, Faith Action, has also been granted £125,000 in funding to consult community and faith groups nationwide to ensure that a wide range of voices is heard and listened to.

Ongoing risks to charities

In today’s climate, it is easy to forget about the other risks that charities must manage day-to-day:

  • Data protection: The ICO revealed that charities reported 112 data breaches in the final quarter of 2019/20. Clare Paterson, of our specialist Data Protection and Information team, is at hand to help you to navigate the world of data protection.
  • Legionella: Our Regulatory team has produced a practical guide to the risk of legionella.
Further information

As always, you can speak to Safa Murad or any other member of our experienced Charities team for advice, or any further information following this week’s round-up.

Safa is a solicitor in the Charities and Social Business team and supports organisations with a broad range of bespoke legal advice. She is currently working at home in Leicester and is enjoying being able to swap the daily commute for time in the garden.