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62% of small charities report rise in demand over last 3 months

Melanie May | 25 August 2021 | News

an elderly person holding a ball, helped by a younger person

Figures from community investment and engagement platform Neighbourly have revealed that 62% of small charities and local causes have seen demand for their services rise over the past three months, with it now higher than at any other time during the pandemic.

Neighbourly’s Community Insights Survey has tracked demand on small charities and community causes throughout the pandemic, with 1,100 organisations responding in July, included food banks, homelessness groups, elderly care organisations and domestic abuse charities.

This most recent survey shows that the average number of people supported by local causes reached a record of 417 people in June, an average increase of 118 people compared to June 2020. Comparing data since March 2020, the average number of people a local good cause supports each week has risen by 187%, a number that has increased consistently every quarter. 


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Despite the rise in demand however, 48% say that their income has dropped over the past three months – with 50% flagging their financial situation as their biggest concern.

Following the end of the UK’s self-isolation restrictions on 16 August, nearly every small charity or good cause surveyed (97%) expressed concern about the impact this would have on their service users. 83% of respondents were particularly concerned about vulnerable people having to isolate once again.

With the temporary £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit, and the Government’s Furlough scheme both set to stop at the end of September, 63% of the organisations responding to Neighbourly say that the removal of financial support will be the main reason for an increase in future demand for their lifeline services.

Small charities and other good causes expect these factors, combined with the end of Covid restrictions, to increase demand for their services by a further 33% over the next three months. Applied to Neighbourly’s entire network of charities and community groups across the UK and Ireland, this could mean the equivalent of more than 2.3 million people needing additional support in the next three months.

Steve Butterworth, CEO of Neighbourly, said:

“Small charities and community groups have been the backbone of our communities throughout the pandemic. But despite their proven power, they are still undervalued. With demand for their essential services continuing to rise, the UK’s community infrastructure must be sustained to ensure that our communities not only survive but thrive. Levelling up to ensure a stronger, fairer and more resilient UK needs to begin in communities and be driven by the knowledge of local people.”


“Alarming levels of poverty, inequality and social isolation, alongside mounting mental health problems, are pushing some communities to breaking point. Together we must ensure that local causes have the resources they need – from financial support to donations of food and volunteer time. Small charities and hyper-local good causes must be at the heart of discussions and action around how we recover from the pandemic and level up the UK.”

A report from earlier this year from the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales revealed how small charities had ‘showed up and stuck around’ during the pandemic, helping people in a way mutual aid and public services couldn’t – despite their own challenges.