Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Charity Commission survey reveals the recession is setting in

According to the Economic Survey of Charities larger charities whose incomes are between £100,000 and £1m have so far been most affected by the recession as there is a greater demand for their services even though their income has fallen.

Two-thirds of large charities have indicated that they are concerned that services may need to be cut back, although the survey has highlighted that only 3 percent of charities have considered working together.

The chair of the commission Dame Suzi Leather has said that it is surprising that more charities have not considered collaboration as will mean that they can share the costs as well as expertise but most importantly it will allow their work to continue through the recession.

As a result of the recession charities have are experiences a drop in their funding as a combination of falling house and share prices, a weak pound and cancelled direct debit donations are undercutting the voluntary sectors efforts in their time of need.

Rapidata the company which handles over four million direct debit transactions for the charitable sector has revealed that cancellations of monthly donations is on the up but new donators have continued to fall as charities have lost around 32.4m from canceled subscriptions over the past 10 months.

by Peter Charalambous

Monday, 23 March 2009

Business will donate £500m less to charity, says survey

Fresh evidence of how the credit crunch is hitting charities emerged today with a new poll showing that business donations to good causes are expected to be cut by almost £500m this year as a result of the economic downturn.

The survey of 450 senior business leaders in the UK found that corporate giving is expected to drop by 34% this year, with six out of 10 respondents expecting that their organisation will cut its charity budget.

British business gives an estimated £1.4bn a year in revenue and support to good causes - much of it from the now devastated financial services industry.

According to the research, which was commissioned by the Social Investment Consultancy and carried out by online pollsters YouGovStone, about 83% of respondents believed that reducing corporate giving was "a necessity" in times like these.

In addition to cutting the total amount of support, almost half of those questioned expected to cut the number of good causes they support this year.

Jake Hayman, the chief executive of the Social Investment Consultancy, said: "These cutbacks will either expose corporations as fair-weather donors, or it could mean they apply themselves to develop more innovative ways of supporting communities.

"The truth is, there are plenty of things companies can do to maintain strong partnerships with good causes that can build rather than hit the bottom line."

More optimistically, four out of five respondents agreed that companies whose budgets are squeezed should look for other ways of helping the community, such as helping staff volunteering, offering the use of their function rooms for fundraising events, or "gifts in kind".

A computer company that previously gave a £10,000 cheque to its chosen charity might, for example, now opt to give 10 laptops directly. It is a gift still worth £10,000, but perhaps only costs the company £5,000.

The financial services sector, which has been among the worst hit by the economic crisis, has dominated corporate giving. Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS gave £57m and £55m in 2007, according to their annual reports, but that level of funding must now be in jeopardy. Lehman Brothers, the US bank that collapsed last September, reportedly gave $39m (£28m) to charity in 2007.

The Northern Rock Foundation, which was set up by the bank to fund charitable and voluntary organisations in the north-east of Britain, was also a significant donor.

The consultancy's clients include Standard Chartered Bank, which last year commissioned the firm to gauge how effectively staff were engaging with its flagship Seeing Is Believing programme. The scheme is operated in conjunction with the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness to reduce the levels of avoidable blindness.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Paris marathon bid to help charity

A west Wiltshire woman is running the Paris Marathon next month to raise funds for a little-known charity in the area that provides support to disabled children.

Alison Pendle, 62, is running the famous race on April 5 for the West Wiltshire Portage Service, which is a home teaching service for pre-school children with special needs.

Portage visitors, based in Court Street, Trowbridge, go to the family home every week and work with parents and carers to encourage the children to play and learn with specific goals in mind.

Mrs Pendle is on the management committee for the charity and decided to take part in the Paris Marathon when a friend suggested it last year.

She said: “I did a half marathon back in 2004 and we raised about £4,000 between a team of us.

“I decided to do the Paris one because it is much easier to get a place to run in it than the London marathon and it is flatter.

“My running mate and I have been training hard. We downloaded a training plan from the internet and have been doing 16-mile runs fairly regularly.

“We want to raise as much money as possible for the charity.”

Children who benefit from the portage service often have conditions ranging from Down’s Syndrome to cerebral palsy.

They are allocated a home visitor who devises a detailed plan and comes each week to work on a specific aspect of their learning, sometimes as simple as holding a spoon or sitting up.

They then teach the child’s parent or carer how to continue to teach them when the visitor is not there so the child can progress steadily.

It costs the charity £2,500 a year to properly support each child and they usually work with about 30 at any one time.

But there is always a waiting list and the charity needs to raise about £30,000 a year to support the care funding it gets from Wiltshire County Council.

The charity was awarded a £1,000 grant from the Gannett Foundation - a charity run by the Wiltshire Times’ parent company - in 2007.

To sponsor Mrs Pendle on her run visit www.justgiving.com/alison-and-linda or write a cheque, mark it Paris Marathon, and send it to the West Wilts Portage Service, Andil House, Court Street, Trowbridge, BA14 8BR.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Half of UK charities suffer from downturn

More than half of charities say they have been affected by the financial downturn, according to a survey by the sector watchdog.

The Charity Commission, which gauged the impact of the credit crunch in a poll of 1,000 organisations carried out in February and published on Tuesday , said 52 per cent reported tougher times compared with 38 per cent only five months earlier. About three in 10 charities surveyed are suffering a drop in income as a result of the recession.

Dame Suzi Leather, who chairs the Charity Commission, said: “Clearly the impact of the financial downturn on charities is widening and deepening. Some charities still face that double whammy of a drop in income as well as an increased demand for services.”

Worst hit are moderately large charities, which lack the powerful brands of the largest organisations but cannot survive on the generosity of a few wealthy donors. Among charities with an annual income of between £100,000 and £1m, 42 per cent said the overall impact of the downturn was “significant” or “very significant”.

But the survey also shows that a surprisingly large number of charities feel relatively unaffected by the recession.

Only a quarter of charities overall said the impact had been significant or very significant – lending support to the maxim that charitable giving is one of the last activities to be hit in a recession.

Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said: “This demonstrates that the recession is having an impact on charities, but that not all charities are experiencing the downturn equally, and that some will need more support than others.”

He was encouraged by the survey’s finding that one-third of charities were already taking steps to combat the effects of the downturn.

These steps are often painful, however. Some charities have responded to the credit crunch by drawing on their reserve funds, but for many smaller charities such funds are limited. A more common method was to reduce costs, according to the survey, which covered England and Wales.

In several cases, including that of the overseas aid charity Oxfam GB, this involved job losses.

Dame Suzi said drawing on reserves “is not a step that should be taken lightly”. But she added: “It is important to remember that reserves are collected for this purpose – now is the rainy day they have been saving for”.

Commenting on the recession, John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “The vulnerability of smaller charities is of particular concern.”


Charity workers ‘in no-man’s land’

Five charity workers from Bradford who are part of a Gaza-bound aid convoy are stranded in “no man’s land” between two north African countries after clashing with security forces.

The men are working as a maintenance team for the Viva Palestina convoy, which delivered aid to the crisis-hit region last month.

Yesterday, the aid workers, along with two others from London, were under armed guard between the Libyan and Tunisian borders.

Earlier in the 9,000-mile trip they had been involved in scuffles with police in Al Arish, Eygpt, leading to injuries.

The stranded men say they are now being refused safe passage home and are being denied permission to pray at a nearby mosque by local security forces. Speaking from the border, Akbar Ali, 42, a father-of-nine and spokesman for the men, said the group were too scared to leave their vans.

He said: “We can’t move from this no man’s land between Tunisia and Libya. We are exhausted and shattered and these officials are showing us no mercy.

“They won’t even let us go to the mosque, we had to say our prayers in the road.

“We are British subjects and all we want to do is go home.”

Mr Ali, of Whetley Hill, Bradford, said the group had already made a 1,000-mile detour to get into Tunisia after authorities in Egypt and Libya refused them permission to travel.

Mr Ali said he had contacted the British Embassy but was told little could be done. Yvonne Ridley, co-founder of Viva Palestina, said: “This is a British convoy, the Union Jack was flying and it was a great advert for the humanitarian effort of Britain and this is how they are rewarded. I find it shocking the Government is taking this stand.”

By By Marc Meneaud

Anil Kapoor donates Slumdog pay cheque to Indian charity

The 49-year-old actor, who played the role of a TV host in the Oscar-winning film, has donated his pay cheque to an Indian children’s charity, called Plan India, which works for underprivileged kids.

Kapoor admits that his humble upbringing has inspired him to donate the money to the organisation.

“I think sometimes you do a film and everyone in this film - not only me - everyone connected to it had such a positive intent when they started. I think that’s the reason for its success,” the Daily Express quoted him as saying.

“Everyone - (director) Danny (Boyle), (producer) Christian (Colson), (writer) Simon (Beaufoy), (cinematographer) Anthony (Mantle) - they didn’t have commerce in mind, they just wanted it to be a good film.

“We wanted as many people to see the film as possible. I feel it’s the good intent of everyone and the children’s good wishes and their families that have made this film what it has become.

“I told Danny, ‘I can identify with (lead character from the slums) Jamal Malik.’ It’s almost the same thing because I started from a very simple background. Not slums exactly, but a 200 square metre cubicle with common bathrooms and I never wore shoes, always bare feet running around,” he added. (ANI)

Survivor bids to raise awareness of brain tumour symptoms

CANCER survivor Mike Bellis is backing a campaign to raise awareness of brain tumours.
March has been designated as Brain Tumour Awareness Month by the UK charity Brain Tumour UK and other health charities.

Brain Tumour UK says that 40,000 people affected by brain tumours are missing from the UK's official statistics each year.

And the charity forecasts that the brain will become the primary battleground against cancer in the future as the treatment of other cancers advances.

Mr Bellis spoke in support of the campaign and said that his own story indicated that early diagnosis and treatment would have changed his life.

'With my tumour, doctors think I have had it all my life,' he said.
'If it had been diagnosed when I was younger it probably would have changed my life.'

Mr Bellis's tumour wasn't diagnosed until after he had seizures but he says that there were patterns of behaviour earlier in his life which may have been caused by the cancer and which could have been an indicator of a problem.

He was diagnosed in August 2007 with a slow-growing brain tumour known as astrocytoma, which is inoperable in the Isle of Man and the UK.

He was advised to wait until the disease became aggressive before exposing it to severe doses of radiation, but defied doctors by researching other options with the help of UK charity Brainstrust.

He underwent pioneering surgery in November by a world-leading neurosurgeon at the Hospitalier Universitaire Montpellier in France, who successfully removed 90 per cent of the tumour.

He is supporting the awareness month, which aims to make sure that government and health services across the UK record all brain tumours in the official statistics by the end of 2009, so that effective care can be planned and delivered.

'Brain tumours, by virtue of their dangerous location, can impact on every characteristic that defines us as human beings,' says the charity's chief executive Jenny Baker.

'It is scandalous that thousands of people, many of them suffering very substantial cognitive and physical impairments as a result of their tumour, are largely overlooked because health services have not recognised their existence and complex needs.'

Brain Tumour UK's report a�� 'Register my tumour, recognise me' a�� estimates that 48,000 people develop a primary or secondary brain tumour in the UK every year.

The report is supported by experts from around the UK.

Although 8,000 primary brain tumour cases are recorded in the official Cancer Registry, studies have shown that half of all primary brain tumours are missing from the registry.

Consequently, another 8,000 tumours are not recorded.

Some are malignant while others that are low grade or benign can nevertheless be as deadly as cancer.

The charity says that the most surprising finding of all is that secondary brain cancer is not recorded, even though for many cancer pati

Brain Tumour UK's review of post-mortem examination studies leads it to conclude that about 32,000 people affected by secondary brain tumours are not properly recorded in the official statistics each year.

Secondary cancer in the brain is becoming increasingly common as advances are made in treating other primary cancers.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Servicemen's charity reaches £17 million

A WILTSHIRE couple’s charity to help severely wounded servicemen has now raised £17m in just 17 months.

The Help for Heroes was founded by cartoonist Bryn Parry and wife Emma, from Downton near Salisbury after Bryn visited military amputees in 2007 and were moved by their plight. Based at Tidworth on the Salisbury Plain the charity has already ploughed more than £12 million into improving facilities for seriously wounded personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Of that, around £8.5 million has gone towards a swimming pool and gym at Headley Court, a rehabilitation service in Surrey. Another £3.5 million has been used for helping injured servicemen who may have lost limbs to adapt their lives and £500,000 to improve the first medical facilities injured service personnel encounter when they return to the UK, the Selly Oak NHS Hospital in Birmingham.

Since it started the public have responded well to the charity and big campaigns have helped to fuel support including the X Factor contestants’ version of Mariah Carey’s Hero as well as the support of high profile figures such as Princes William and Harry.

To find out more about the charity see the website www.helpforheroes.org.uk.

You can also send a cheque to Help for Heroes, Unit 6, Aspire Business Centre, Ordinance Room, Tidworth, SP9 7DQ, or call 0845 673 1760 or 01980 846 459.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Women wanted for charity run

WOMEN of all ages are being urged to take part in a 5km sponsored run to raise money for charity.

Organised by Cancer Research UK, Race for Life will take place in Hartlepool on June 7.

It is hoped more than 2,000 women will either walk, jog or run the course along Coronation Drive between Hartlepool and Seaton Carew.

Organisers are hoping to raise more than £90,000 for charity.

Emma Surrey, assistant sports development officer with Hartlepool Council, said: "We are delighted to be hosting the Race for Life again. It is a wonderful opportunity for women of all ages to have fun, explore the challenges of running and support the life-saving work of Cancer Research UK."

The council’s sports development team is staging a seven-week training programme.

The Begin 2 Run sessions will take place at Summerhill Country Park on Thursdays between 6pm and 7pm from April 23. The programme costs £10 per person.

For more information about the Begin 2 Run sessions or to book a place contact Emma Surrey on 01429-284049 or email emma.surrey@hartlepool.gov.uk For further details about the Race for Life visit www.raceforlife.org/north

More cash would save babies lives

Stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands claims in a report that out of the 17 babies who are stillborn or die shortly after birth each day a "significant percentage" could be saved.

It added maternity services are under "considerable strain from lack of resources".

It is investing £3 million in stillbirth research over the next five years and it is calling on the Government to match it.

The charity's Saving Babies' Lives Report 2009 called on the Government to consider baby deaths as a "major health issue" at national level.

It said: "The perception that stillbirths and early baby deaths are sad but inevitable events, that these babies were somehow 'meant to die', is far from the truth."

It added: "Although there are certainly cases of stillbirth where nothing could have been done, there is an increasing body of evidence and opinion that many of those lives could be saved.

"Maternity services in the UK are under considerable strain from lack of resources and funding and there is strong evidence to suggest that this is contributing to baby deaths.

"A serious lack of direct funding for scientific research to understand and prevent stillbirths is holding back progress that could be made in reducing the numbers of deaths."

A Sands survey of 270 bereaved parents found almost half (48 per cent) did not feel everything possible was done to save their baby's life.

A similar number (49 per cent) said they were not completely confident about the care they had received in the lead up to their baby's death and more than a third (36 per cent) said they felt rushed through their antenatal appointments.

Neal Long, chief executive of Sands, said: "For too long these deaths have been ignored and yet here is compelling evidence to suggest that many babies' lives could be saved with better antenatal care, increased funding for maternity services, more midwives and increased funding for research.

"We want to see action now to save babies' lives."

A Department for Health spokeswoman said: "We will continue to work to reduce stillbirths and neonatal deaths as well as improving outcomes for both mother and baby. We have placed safety and quality at the heart of our vision for maternity services.

"There are more staff than ever before with over 25,000 midwives and 1,500 consultant obstetricians and more investment is going in - last January we announced a further £330 million for the next three years.

"For the best health outcomes, it is important that women access maternity care at an early stage."

From Euronews 24

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