Daily coronavirus roundup for third sector Monday 25 May


How the sector is responding to the crisis 

25th May 2020 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Careless walkers rescued by charity

Arrochar Mountain Rescue team was called-out for the first time since lockdown began - to rescue a group of hillwalkers taking on The Cobbler in Argyll. At around 3.20pm yesterday afternoon, the team located the three walkers who had got lost up the 884-meter mountain. The three walkers, from Motherwell, were scorned by the police by the time they reached the bottom. A Facebook post reads: "Today we had our first callout since lockdown began. Arrochar MRT were called out by Police Scotland at 15:20 for three hillwalkers from Motherwell who were lost in the mist on The Cobbler, Arrochar, Argyll. All three were located and safely escorted down the hill (from a safe distance). Police met them at the bottom to discuss/explain the current Scottish regulation on travel during lockdown." People have been discouraged from climbing Scottish hills since March this year. Although the First Minister ruled certain outdoor activities will be allowed from 28 May, restrictions on outdoor sports remain in place until the Scottish Government has told otherwise. 

VAT donated to healthcare organisations

Up to £1m of VAT from PPE is to go to two healthcare charities. It comes after the UK government pledged to pass on the revenue it has received on personal protective equipment (PPE) donated to NHS and care providers. Donations will be made to the Care Workers’ Charity and NHS Charities Together to support frontline workers affected by Covid-19. HMRC estimates that the pledge will generate between £500,000 and £1m.  VAT is due on assets donated by businesses where they paid and reclaimed VAT when they originally purchased the goods. Businesses will have until the end of June to tell HMRC what VAT they have paid. The Department for Health and Social Care will make the donation of the VAT on the government’s behalf. Steve Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “Frontline health workers are fighting Covid-19 day in, day out – in our hospitals, care homes and communities. Whilst we will never be able to fully express our gratitude to them, we want these donations to be a small sign of our appreciation.”

Uniform bank fears post-lockdown

A Moray charity that ordinarily supplies children with school uniforms and warm clothing fears its referrals may triple following the coronavirus outbreak. Moray School Bank was inundated with 280 requests for support during last year’s summer holidays to ensure pupils were ready for class. During the first two months of the Covid-19 lockdown the group has surged into action by providing 484 cash grants of £50 and £100 to support 520 children across the region. More than £30,000 of supermarket vouchers and utility bill top-ups have been provided to families by the Rothes-based charity in recent weeks. However, development manager Debi Weir fears the need for support will only increase in the coming months amid concerns the charity may be unable to cope with demand. Figures published by Moray Council this month have revealed that more than a fifth of all jobs in the region are at risk following the virus outbreak. Weir said: “People are going to be unemployed, people are already losing their jobs. “Families we’ve been helping rely on insecure jobs in contracts or summer seasonal work, which just won’t happen this year. When we get back into winter we’re going to see an awful lot of parents needing support.” Moray School Bank has secured £55,000 in funding to provide small cash grants to struggling families during the lockdown.

Restaurant feeds the homeless

Popular Glasgow restaurant Charcoals is handing out thousands of meals to the city’s homeless during the Covid-19 lockdown. The Indian restaurant on Renfield Street, is working closely with a number of charities to match an increased demand due to the pandemic. Charcoals is carrying on their tradition of feeding the city's rough sleepers, which they have done since 2016. Muhammed Sultan, who runs the restaurant, said "Charity isn't about pity, it's about love. I will do everything to help homeless people. "I have been doing this for couple of years and we have been giving food to homeless on every Monday and Tuesday for the last two years." The award-winning restaurant also helps feed Glasgow's homeless on the first two days of each week from 3 to 4pm. Customer hailed the initiative on social media. One said: "It’s wonderful that you’re doing this and have done so for a few years. Making life a wee bit better for others deserves our thanks and respect."

National Youth Corps?

A coalition of British youth charities is urging the UK government to back a “national youth corps” to create opportunities for school and university leavers facing the toughest labour market for decades. The alliance of 12 organisations argues that decisive intervention can “turn this looming disaster into an opportunity”. The new youth corps would guarantee at least the minimum wage for 16- to 25-year-olds in a range of work and training opportunities until the end of 2021. “Instead of staring into the abyss, we could create a new model for mobilising and unlocking the capacity of our young people,” said Chris Wright of Catch 22, one of the signatories in a letter published in the national press. The Cabinet Office and Department for Work and Pensions are understood to be contemplating how to react, and a meeting with charities is planned for Wednesday. British employers not acutely damaged by the pandemic will be asked to offer work or training. Other elements of the proposals include one-to-one mentoring to help young people, especially those from a disadvantaged background, prosper in the “new normal”. Details of projects would be posted to a digital hub then distributed to local youth corps centres.