North East Charities Struggle As 64% Say Underfunding Would Have Negative Impact On Community

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New data released today to mark Small Charity Week (24 – 28 June) reveals how frequently people in the North East use and rely on small charities.

32% of people used a community-based food bank in the last year, with 53% having to rely on them as frequently as once a week, compared to 27% nationally. As charities in the North East plug the gap in people’s finances, over a quarter of people in the North East said they used a small charity because they needed support with the pressures caused by the cost-of-living crisis.

The research commissioned by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) shows 6% of people have used a small charity because ‘they had nowhere else to turn to’ and 19% said that public services were insufficient. As many as 64% said small charity closures caused by underfunding would have a negative impact on their community. While over 1 in 3 people described small charities as ‘under supported’, ‘under resourced’, ‘essential’ and a ‘lifeline’; exposing how integral they are to people’s daily lives.

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[Stepney Bank Stables, a small charity and urban equestrian centre in central Newcastle, aims to make the physical and mental health benefits of contact with horses accessible to young people living in disadvantaged urban areas. Despite their noble mission, the organisation faces significant challenges due to rising costs and the unique demands of their urban setting.]

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National World

Sara Newson Centre Manager at Stepney Bank Stables said:

"The significant rise in costs over the last 2 years has been hugely challenging. Keeping horses in an urban location with limited grazing is more expensive than keeping them in a rural location as we have to spend more on bedding and feed. Their care is more labour-intensive as we need to ensure they have plenty of enrichment activities to keep them happy and healthy. The young people we support have higher support needs in terms of their mental health than previously. 20% of attendees have a diagnosis of ASD and require some additional support."

Other key findings and reasons for using small charities include:

  • The main reason Brits say they used a small charity in the last year was to ‘meet new people’ (29%)

  • Almost 1 in 5 (19%) have used advice and support centres and more than 1 in 5 (22%) have accessed animal shelters in their community

  • Over 1 in 10 (13%) of Brits say they used a small charity because they were experiencing loneliness

  • Almost half of Brits (47%) think the government should do more to support small charities, almost the same amount (48%) say it should be easier for small charities to get funding

  • Over a quarter of Brits (29%) say that the public should donate more money to charities, if they can. And almost 1 in 5 people (19%) say it should be made easier for people to volunteer for a small charity

Responding to the research, NCVO Chief Executive Sarah Elliott (formerly Vibert) said:

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“Today’s findings are a stark reminder that small charities in local communities across the North East, often those with the least resources, are plugging the financial gap caused by the cost of living crisis that millions of people in this region are grappling with. It’s clear that many are accessing small charities for regular support for essential issues like being able to eat and feed their families.

Every day, small charities in the North East are making a big difference, but they need better support and more volunteers to be able to stay open and continue the work that so many people depend on. Small charities are not just nice to have; they provide services that underfunded public services can no longer do. As the country gears up to choose the next government, charities in the North East must be heard, recognised, and given the support they need to ensure communities are stronger tomorrow than they are today.”

During Small Charity Week, NCVO is highlighting the lifeline that small charities provide to communities, and the precarious situation many charities find themselves in with increasing demand, falling income and increasing costs. As shown by previous NCVO data the combined effects of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis are likely to impact the voluntary sector as a whole but leave smaller charities particularly vulnerable. To help charities make our communities stronger, they must be at the forefront of people’s minds during the election and beyond. NCVO are asking the public to show their love for small charities by making a pledge on social media.

About Small Charity Week

Small Charity Week is a campaign which aims to amplify, support and connect small charities right across the UK. First established by the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI) in 2010 to celebrate and raise the profile of the small charity sector. From 2020 the campaign was jointly delivered by FSI and other partners, due to the closure of The FSI in 2023, subsequent campaign weeks have been delivered by NCVO, supported by Lloyds Bank Foundation.

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