The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new attention to how people live their lives, at home, at work, and at leisure. Questions are being asked particularly about housing, about inequality, residential care of the elderly, the health and care workforce and, of course, death. These are questions that the charities we consider in this study deal with day-in day-out.
We should, perhaps, learn from the pandemic of 2020 not only to better understand and appreciate the crucial role of the charitable sector, but also consider how much public policy can learn from charities’ adaptability and innovation in order to better face the coming decades. We set this in the context of five priority areas in which the UK needs to do much better: Wellbeing, Workforce, Inequality, Ageing, and Dying. In each of these we look at the extraordinary contribution of the charities, both in ‘normal’ times and in the circumstances of a pandemic.
The pandemic should be the spur to development of a stronger and more sustainable partnership between public services and the charitable sector. Faced with growing needs and high aspirations in these priority areas of public policy it would be both disingenuous and dangerous to assume that charities will forever be able to fill gaps in health and social care under ‘business as usual’.
We have approached this study with three general questions in mind.
- What difference have these charities made during the worst pandemic to strike the UK since the Spanish Flu more than a century before?
- How have they adapted and managed a situation of high need with most of the usual fundraising options closed?
- What lessons are there from this experience for the future of UK health and social care?
Charities played a vital role in adapting to the pandemic in order to provide continuity of care and vital support to some of those most impacted by the indirect effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In this paper, we consider this important complementary role played by charities and the people who support them, focused on the real difference that their interventions can make. The lockdown used to tackle the COVID-19 virus had a particular impact on charity finances, just when the human touch of voluntary support was most needed.
Click here to read a blog post about this study, written by Dr Tony Hockley.