It’s often said that a crisis brings out the best in people, and that has proven to be true during the coronavirus pandemic.
In particular, the way in which charities and voluntary organisations responded to the unprecedented crisis which changed all our lives back in March has been magnificent to see.
Many have found themselves at the forefront of the Covid-19 response, delivering food to vulnerable Londoners, providing vital support to our under-pressure NHS, or simply offering a friendly voice on the end of the phone.
The pandemic left in its wake a perfect storm for charities, left to face the twin pressures of surging demand for their services and plummeting income, as the lockdown wreaked havoc on fund-raising activities.
Funding organisations such as City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, had to step up to the plate, and I’m proud to say it did just that.
Back in March, with an initial £1m each from the Trust and the Mayor of London, the London Community Response Fund was born, offering vital help to charities battling the impact of the pandemic.
The fund has now topped the £25m mark, including £11m from City Bridge Trust, £5m from the Mayor of London, £7m from the National Lottery Community Fund and generous donations from 15 other funders and companies.
It’s money which has helped around 1,000 charities and voluntary groups across the capital adapt their services to the new reality created by the pandemic.
In June, City Bridge Trust told all of its existing grantees that they could use funding awarded for specific projects to cover core costs—such as paying rent, wages or electricity bills—for up to a year.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that without this kind of support many charities could have gone to the wall, and the urgency of their plight required a swift and effective response.
By cutting red tape, simplifying the grants process and switching decision-making online, City Bridge Trust has been able to channel funding to organisations which need it, when they need it.
There’s a strong desire to ensure a more streamlined, more collaborative approach continues into the post-Covid world, and I’m sure that the Trust, as London’s largest independent funder, will continue to lead the way.
But more than that, I believe the pandemic has shown that when public and private sector organisations work together with each other, with charities on the ground and with the communities they serve, we all benefit.
Back in the darkest days of the lockdown, many of us took to the streets to “clap for carers”, as a visible show of support for the key workers who in many cases risked their lives to ensure that vital services could continue.
I hope, and I believe, that the often-unsung heroes who give up their time to enable charities big and small to help vulnerable people across London will also emerge from this crisis with a new-found recognition from a grateful public.
Main image credit: Getty