As lockdown continues, we consider the effect of coronavirus and the impact on charity service delivery
As the current outbreak of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, continues, charities have demonstrated agility and adaptability in their approach. As we prepare for the changes ahead, we take a look at the effect of coronavirus.
Agile thinking is agile working. The charities mentioned here are some of the many organisations across the sector proving that necessity is the mother of invention.
Staying safe by staying at home has affected charities helping their service users. A survey published by the Small Charities Coalition has revealed that small charities have been hit by the effects of lockdown, with only 20% saying that they are able to continue providing normal services.
However, thinking outside the box with limited resources has led to the innovative thinking needed to continue helping beneficiaries. Charities have been able to review the digital options available and harnessed the power of digital to (virtually) reach beneficiaries and keep championing progress.
As people share their accounts of adapting to life in isolation and embracing the digital options available to them, charities have fluidly reshaped their approach to truly go with the flow.
Charities are working to keep people safe whilst abiding by the guidance on social distancing. Multiple charities have published advice and guidance for people with specific health issues who fall into the at-risk group, including British Heart Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Asthma UK and Diabetes UK.
This extends to safety within the home too. Speaking to the Independent, Domestic abuse charity Chayn said “We are anticipating domestic abuse will increase during Coronavirus and we are preparing services for this. We are producing more content online. If you are living in the vicinity of an abuser, you need coping mechanisms. We are run by volunteers and are now working in the evenings too. A lot of survivors go to local trauma groups and group therapy but can’t get that anymore, so we are running a trauma group on Telegram – a highly secure instant messaging app.”
Until recently, such charities would have provided physical safe havens but have been able to create virtual safe havens to help people through the lockdown.
The hope and support provided by faith organisations helps many people, especially in trying times. As multiple organisations take worship to the cloud, the Church of England has published a list of digital resources for staff around the country along with apps for prayer, an audio daily prayer service and audio sermons via smart speakers like Alexa.
Anxiety UK have extended their services by collecting information, resources and support on one page, especially at a stressful time when hunting through websites is a challenge. Their #Coronaanxiety hashtag collects content about coping mechanisms for people with anxiety conditions facing this new reality. Regular online support groups are streamed live on YouTube and they also deploy interactive webinars.
Charities such as deaf health charity Signhealth are assisting service users by translating the government’s daily Coronavirus briefings into sign language videos along with additional resources.
Age UK have always assisted their users with an information telephone support line and have augmented their services in their online Coronavirus information hub including content from the BBC explaining how to familiarise older relatives and friends with video calling and more.
Check out our podcast ’Is your charity digitally accessible?’ for more advice.
Charities have also deployed apps and other digital solutions. A wide range of commendable charity apps have emerged over the past few years, supporting people with tailored information such as Breast Cancer Care’s award-winning BECCA app. It provides survivors of breast cancer loads of lifestyle and self-care tips at their fingertips, demonstrating that you don’t need complex tech to create enormously useful resources but rather adapt your existing expert content to suit the needs of beneficiaries.
Don’t worry if you are put off by the thought of coding! Lots of platforms have popped up that allow charities to build and release apps without coding. Amongst the many out there, Appy Builder is a free drag and drop app creator.
Alternatively, you can create an app library of existing, reliable and trusted apps out there. Parkinsons UK teamed up with Our Mobile Health to create a list of mobile apps they recommend for people with Parkinsons.
YouTube is a great place to blow off steam. It’s also a great place to store and share insights and resources. Among others, Diabetes UK are doing a great job with their Digital Stories scheme encouraging people with diabetes to share their stories via YouTube and have hosted the content on their own website.
By remaining focused on their mission and using digital tools flexibly, the charity sector has demonstrated that it remains attuned to the needs of beneficiaries and committed to supporting them in very real, albeit, virtual ways.