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Major survey reveals coronavirus impact on Torbay's voluntary sector

Multi-million pound losses are being recorded by Torbay's charity and voluntary sector, according to a new survey looking at the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Torbay Community Development Trust estimates that more than £5.5m will have been lost by the end of June.

Organisations are reporting shortfalls of £2.5m with the hardest hit in the sector being Rowcroft Hospice who are down £1.5m  - partly because they rely on income from High Street shops to supplement their income

Other charities who have been in the front line of the fightback, such as the organisations making up the Torbay Community Coronavirus Helpline, are also facing increased costs because of staff overtime.

The survey was filled in by 113 organisations, representing charities and organisations from the community amateur sports clubs, voluntary not for profit, private care home and churches sectors. One in four of which have furloughed staff.

One in six have had to stop providing their regular services or support during the crisis but switching their expertise has meant that 74% of them have managed to continue and to provide help and support for people affected by Covid-19.

Robin Causley, from the development trust, said: "It is quite clear that the sector has reacted swiftly during this crisis and has been instrumental in helping communities across the bay.

“But inevitably it has been at great cost – not just in increased overheads, accompanied by fewer income opportunities but also because in many cases the usual sources of grants and funding have not been available.

“It is not over yet and whilst it has been recognised that the services and support of the sector have been invaluable and they not only need the funding not just to maintain the work, but to repay some of the money already spent."

The survey suggests the sector is now 'bracing itself for a host of fresh issues facing communities as the lockdown continues for the most vulnerable and the effects of the initial stay at home message continues to impact on unemployment'.

It suggests: "More resources are expected to be needed from organisations as they remain available for shielded people who will remain in their homes, some relying on the community for the support.

"There is also expected to be an increase in the number of mental health cases, as well as incidences of sexual and domestic abuse along with more people than ever needing financial advice."

Mr Causley added: " A very appropriate hashtag surfaced during the crisis and it is even more relevant today as this sector bears the brunt of some very complex and long-lasting issues, and that hashtag was #nevermore needed.

"This sector has always managed on limited and uncertain funding, but now, more than ever has been the case, we need to able to concentrate on the job in hand, not the hand to mouth and daily worry about paying for it."

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