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Foundations make all sorts of contributions to make the world a better place. Much of the Health Foundation’s focus prioritises improving heath and care for the future, for example through research and influencing policy, over providing immediate help for today’s needs. We don’t normally support charities providing direct services to vulnerable groups for example. But with a challenge like COVID-19, we have to respond now.

We’ve made an immediate donation to the Trussell Trust, to help address the severe food insecurity some people are facing. We’ve also made donations to other smaller charities, and we hear from a couple of those below about how the funds will be used. 

We’re also planning further grants. It is better to coordinate a response with others, so we are in discussions with the Association of Charitable Foundations, about the need to support voluntary sector organisations providing direct help to groups such as people experiencing homelessness, food insecurity, domestic violence and loneliness. Also important are organisations providing palliative care in hospices and in the community.

While the emergency is now, the implications for the medium term are no less important to have in sight, particularly for organisations like us outside of the health and social care system which have time to reflect. A big focus of our work will be on the direct and indirect impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on inequalities in health across the UK, and what should be done about it.

How will these donations help?

The Trussell Trust

The Health Foundation has made a donation to the Trussell Trust to help their network of food banks respond to the impact of COVID-19. Their Chief Executive, Emma Revie, explains how this money will be used:

'Last year, food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network provided 1.6m emergency food parcels to people in crisis. More than half a million of these went to children. As the COVID-19 outbreak develops, many more people are in need of a food bank’s help. There have been over a million new applications for universal credit in the last few weeks alone. 

'Wherever possible, food banks are continuing to provide emergency support to people in their community in the safest way possible. Our teams are working tirelessly to ensure that food banks are able to remain open and have the necessary stocks to respond to this crisis. Food banks have had to make significant changes to the way they work in order to protect the health of everyone at the food bank – whether that’s people who need the food bank, people volunteering, or people donating.

'We are working to support food banks in any way needed during this time of uncertainty and challenge, helping get emergency food to people who can’t afford it in the safest way possible. Our team are providing daily guidance to help food banks transform the way they work in order to continue providing emergency food safely. We’re also helping them to recruit new volunteers and develop safe ways to deliver food bank parcels to people’s homes. Throughout the pandemic, our network is also being given constant access to support through a frontline field team and food bank helpline.

'Everyone should be able to afford their own food and we’ll be continuing our work to end the need for food banks, but right now more people than ever are likely to need a food bank’s help.'

Care Workers' Charity

The Health Foundation has made a donation to the Care Workers’ Charity Coronavirus Emergency Fund to support those working at the front line of the coronavirus crisis. Karolina Gerlich, Executive Director of the organisation, explained why donations like these are so vital and have enabled them to act fast to support the sector:

'There are almost two million care workers in the UK, contributing to one of the largest workforces. They spend their careers assisting others, but when circumstances change, sometimes it is the care workers who need help.

'We've had a 1000% increase in applications for financial support for care workers, and in two weeks awarded 371 grants to the same value as we did in the whole of last year. Care workers are really struggling, going hungry and unable to pay their bills.

'COVID-19 is one of the biggest crises our generation will see in its lifetime. Care workers are at the front line of this, caring for the most vulnerable people in our society who are most susceptible to the disease. If a care worker needs to self-isolate, they will fall into desperate need. We’re anticipating an even larger number of applications for support over the coming weeks so it’s vital we can provide financial support in the form of crisis grants for care workers. This is not going to be an easy journey, but together we can make it.'

Beat Eating Disorders

The Health Foundation has given funding to the charity Beat Eating Disorders. Beat’s Chief Executive, Andrew Radford, said: 

'The Health Foundation’s grant could not have come at a better time for Beat and our beneficiaries, as we face the most challenging period we have ever been through. This donation will be used to help meet the 35% increase in people contacting our helpline and digital support services since the current crisis began. It will enable us to: add helpline capacity to meet the rising demand; start new online support groups; make referrals for/with callers to eating disorder services, notably where referrals from GPs have dried up; and develop increased support for people unable to access treatment or facing long waits, helping to keep them on track for recovery.'

Jennifer Dixon (@JenniferTHF) is Chief Executive of the Health Foundation.

This content originally featured in our email newsletter, which explores perspectives and expert opinion on a different health or health care topic each month.

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