Charities will close because of coronavirus lockdown, Wales Council for Voluntary Actions says

By Hamish Auskerry

Many charities in Wales will close their doors for good because of coronavirus, the Wales Council for Voluntary Action has warned.

The closure of charity shops; the cancellation of fundraisers, and the increase in demand for charities' support services have put an overwhelming pressure on both large and small charities in Wales.

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Kidney Wales is a charity with more than fifty years of looking after people with kidney disease. It has a high profile in Wales partly because of its role in organising the Cardiff 10K running race each year.

The charity's managing director, Judith Stone, told ITV News they could close within a year if the coronavirus lockdown continued indefinitely.

"If we can secure no funding whatsoever, and we hope that not to be the case", Judith Stone said, "we think [permanent closure] may be in around a year. That's a realistic prospect for us".

Kidney Wales organises the Cardiff 10K running race every year. Credit: ITV News

Ruth Marks, the CEO of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) told ITV News that "many charities" will close because of coronavirus.

"Charities cannot fundraise in the traditional sense", she said.

"There are no sponsored runs, you cannot buy a cake in a bake sale, you can't do your shopping in a charity retail shop. All the traditional forms of fundraising are closed off to charities".

Ruth Marks also said the WCVA welcomes the funding put in place by the Welsh and UK Governments in recent weeks.

The Welsh Government announced more than £24 million in financial support for the third sector. It said this funding will provide "immediate support for Wales’ most vulnerable and help coordinate the thousands of willing volunteers wanting to help others during the current crisis."

The UK government has in turn committed to give the Welsh Government £20 million through the smaller charities funding. It says that "further Barnett allocations funded through the direct grant pot" will come to Wales too.

Ruth Marks is the CEO of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action. Credit: ITV News

However, the WCVA does not think this will be enough to stop charities closing.

"The likelihood is that charities will close as a result of this crisis, of that I'm sure", Ruth Marks told ITV News.

Charities across Wales have told ITV News of their concerns about how the pandemic and consequent lockdown will affect them.

Bobath Wales are a charity based in Cardiff who provide specialist therapy to children from across Wales who have cerebral palsy.

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, they said they have been forced to close their therapy centre and charity shops and furlough 34 out of 49 of their employees. They said they are also anticipating a "shattering loss of approximately a third of our income because of the crisis".

Tŷ Hafan support over 840 life-limited children and families. Credit: Tŷ Hafan

Charities like the children's hospice Tŷ Hafan had to cancel all their planned events and close their charity shops, meaning a potential income loss of more than £2 million this year.

Several wildlife trusts are working hard to avoid insolvency, and have already had to cut jobs and reduce pay and hours, according to the WCVA.

And St David's Hospice in Newport said it is facing "its biggest challenge in forty years" as it is unable to raise enough funds to help those in need.

It says it has to fund 70% of its clinical services through shops, fundraising and events, while the NHS covers the remaining 30%.

There are few charities in Wales not going to be detrimentally affected by the pandemic and the lockdown.

The Wales Air Ambulance Service is one of the country's most recognisable charities. Coronavirus has affected their fundraising ability too. Credit: ITV News

Charities are the fabric of civil society. Every walk of life, every community, in short - everyone - has been helped by a charity in some form or another, or knows someone close to them who has.

But coronavirus is making it possible that many charities may not be there to help people pick up the pieces after the pandemic is over.