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How helpful is the Chancellor's Charity Support Package to rural communities?

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CAN is an member of the national ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) network.  ACRE is very active at national level in helping formulate government strategies for supporting community groups. Right now ACRE is working with other national charities to help Government get to grips with the impact of Covid-19 on rural people and community organisations throughout England.

A priority for ACRE is the small charities and community organisations that exist in every rural community; especially those delivering essential support to vulnerable rural people.  The greatest concern is that vulnerable people were already at risk of isolation and loneliness before the government’s ‘lockdown' measures were introduced. The current situation has only made life more difficult for those in need of support.  

In the midst of a crisis of this kind it is understandable that maximum focus is being placed on the nation’s major urban centres, but are the 9.5 million people living in rural England, out of sight, and therefore out of mind?  Small rural community organisations and charities are heavily dependent on local events, fayres and other community-based fundraising.  They do not have the fundraising machinery or reserves that could help them survive the unforeseeable times we are living through; without fundraising, the future of those rural charities looks bleak.

The Chancellor’s support package is largely aimed at charities that are helping with the crisis and is, therefore, very welcome.  However, it will not help to sustain those whose viability is affected by the crisis.  A stark contrast to what has been done for profit making organisations in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.  

David Emerson, Chair of ACRE said:  “The lifeline that very local charities provided to those who are vulnerable, lonely and isolated in rural areas is being wrenched away by this crisis.  No amount of money will restore the warmth of close human contact these organisations can no longer provide, but it will take more than this limited financial commitment to ensure they are still there when the crisis is over.”

ACRE remains fully operational throughout the pandemic and is committed to continue its work with other national charities, Government and DEFRA to make sure that England’s rural communities come out of this crisis in a healthier and more resilient state than when it started.

You can read CAN’s key information and updates to Norfolk’s voluntary and community sector status during the COVID-19 pandemic here. And if you manage a voluntary, community or social enterprise organisation in Norfolk you can contribute to helping us raise local, regional and national awareness of the important role of the VCSE sector now, and in the future, by completing our survey here.