CHARITIES have called for urgent government support to help them survive the coronavirus outbreak and continue supporting the most vulnerable members of society.

Cancelled fundraisers and closed shops have placed many charitable organisations under intense financial pressure, with some fearing they will not raise enough money to maintain their vital services.

Amid public alarm over employment, education, and wellbeing during the lockdown period, there is a growing need for charities' support, and several MPs from Gwent have co-signed a cross-party letter calling on the UK government to protect the charitable sector like he has for businesses.


Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds said charities "can help alleviate the pressure on our NHS and social care services" and support people with the outbreak's economic and social impacts, as well as assisting vulnerable families.

"I am very concerned that, in the worst case scenario, if such charities were to disappear, gaps in support in many areas would get wider in the future," he said.

As the Argus reported last week, the Gwent-based Sparkle organisation is one of many local charities facing financial despair.

With annual running costs of around £600,000, Sparkle provides unique leisure activities six days a week for up to 400 children who have complex disabilities or additional needs; as well as respite support for their families.

But with the coronavirus outbreak wiping out the charity's fundraising calendar, those who run Sparkle have turned to crowdfunding to keep the organisation afloat.

Other Gwent charities like Feed Newport CIC and St David's Hospice Care have also turned to online fundraising to keep services running after the coronavirus lockdown cancelled important fundraising events and, for the latter charity, closed its network of shops.

Sparkle chairman Dr Sabine Maguire said she feared the government had "overlooked" the charitable sector and was unaware of the added pressures that would be placed on the NHS and public sector if charities were to disappear.

"If charities supporting vulnerable people in the community were to stop tomorrow, there's no way the government could step in," she said.

In Westminster, calls are intensifying for the government to act – more than 230 MPs and peers have co-signed a letter from Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty calling for an urgent government support package.

Among them are Gwent MPs Mr Thomas-Symonds, Wayne David (Caerphilly), Chris Evans (Islwyn), Ruth Jones (Newport East), and Jessica Morden (Newport West); and peers Baroness Wilcox of Newport and Lord Murphy of Torfaen.

South Wales Argus:

The Wales Council for Voluntary Action has called on government to provide as much financial support as possible "to enable the survival of these vital organisations through the crisis".

A spokeswoman said the Welsh Government "recognised and applauded" charities' contributions and was "adopting a flexible approach to our grant funding to help third sector organisations through this difficult time while we develop additional support packages".

Yesterday the Welsh Government announced a new £500 million fund to help support charities and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic would be introduced in the next two weeks - but the MPs are calling for more immediate help.