A fundraising gap has been created as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the CEO of the Thomas Pocklington Trust, Charles Colquhoun.

‘There are a lot of charities that are struggling,’ he explained to Optician, adding: ‘A report from the Institute of Fundraising found that charity funding has gone down by 48% while demand has increased because it is vulnerable people who are affected most by this crisis.’

Charities were projecting that a third of their total income will be wiped out, with 83% of respondents stating that emergency funding was the most important thing to sustain services over the next three to six months.

Highlighting the need for services, Colquhoun said the pandemic was affecting those people who are blind, partially sighted, living independently and dependently.

He said: ‘It’s tough out there so we felt the way we could best help was to bridge the funding gap to help the local charities do the excellent work that they do.’

The Thomas Pocklington Trust has made £500,000 of essential support available to sight loss charities in order to help them continue providing services for the physical and emotional wellbeing of blind and partially sighted people.

Highlighting the importance of the emergency fund, Colquhoun said: ‘We want to release this fund because it is important to keep people going right now. In some charities’ cases, they can’t wait a week as they are running out of money. Many charities run very close to the bone and so a sudden dry up of funding is very difficult.’

In order to free up money for the emergency grant, the Thomas Pocklington Trust has suspended its normal grant funding programme.

‘Rather than us spend the money on a few projects we felt it best to help as many charities as we possibly can with a grant to keep them going for the next couple of months when we hope the crisis will have eased,’ Colquhoun explained.

Colquhoun shared that the trust is also lobbying the government to include blind and partially sighted people on the priority list for supermarket slots. A letter, jointly signed by the Royal National Institute of Blind People and Guide Dogs, has been sent to ministers.

‘We need to make sure that the whole sector is working actively in not only day to day support but also lobbying government so that the sufficient requirements for blind and sighted people are met. Blind and partially sighted people either rely on someone to guide them around when shopping, which can’t be done now, or they rely on touching items, which is unhelpful,’ he shared.

He also noted that it was difficult for charities to take advantage of the furlough scheme as demand for services was still high. Colquhoun said: ‘While a charity can technically take advantage of it, in reality there is too much work to do. Volunteers are helping but people are limited in providing support directly. You can drop shopping off or do telephone befriending but visiting someone in their home is all but impossible.’