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At 31, a doting father, much-loved fiancée and son, Ross McCarthy should have the world at his feet. Instead, due to lockdown measures and its subsequent pressures imposed upon this young family man, his loved-ones are left grieving his loss.

Unfortunately, this last year, Charity Today has reported on a lot of very saddening suicides, many of which attributed to the impact of lockdown.

Charity Today’s straight-talking Executive Editor, Lee B. Rayment, himself a prolific Mental Health ambassador, said:

“I’ll be honest with you, I’ve become sick and tired of the complete disregard and ignorance for people’s mental health, and with things like cancer diagnosis sidelined. I’ve known of eight suicides personally during the lockdown, and ourselves at Charity Today continue to report daily on many others.”

He added, “I feel our nation’s mental health services were shocking and inept before the pandemic, and now we feel a zoom call is the best we can do. It’s ridiculous.

“This country, our health services and mental health charities need to take a long hard look at themselves because it is not anywhere near good enough. It isn’t. We throw millions of pounds at both charities and mental health services and think that is justifiable. What people need is physical support, and to feel there is a way real way out of the position they find themselves in.”

Ross's father, Mr Mike McCarthy, agrees that the foundations are not in place to support people adequately, he said:

“For all the openness, the awareness, the talking, if the foundation isn’t there for people, then that’s simply not good enough.

“There’s lots of help out there for people when they make that first desperate call, but Ross felt in the weeks and months and years that help faded away.”

The Department of Health and Social Care, which offered its condolences to Ross McCarthy’s family, said:

“We are committed to supporting mental wellbeing, and mental health services have remained open throughout the pandemic.

“We’ve provided the largest funding in NHS history with an additional £2.3bn a year by 2023/24 to transform mental health services for all.”

Responding to The Department of Health and Social Care’s comment’s Rayment added: “The official response is always, we’ve thrown X amount of money at the problem and services remained open, but given services over the last twelve months are non-existent unless one Zoom qualifies as support, what real, quantifiable results does any amount of money given? We need better, and people deserve better than this!”

Mr Rayment’s and Mr McCarthy’s comments come in the week that an inquest into the death of a Basingstoke-based charity fundraiser found the impact of lockdown played a significant part in the suicide of Brook Edmunds, 43.

You can call Samaritans free on 116 123, email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

charitytoday.co.uk | 26 March 2021

shutterstock 1718927581 scaled e1616666711763NHS Charities Together has allocated £7m from its COVID appeal to bolster an army of community first responder and other volunteers, who will work with ambulance crews across the UK to help ease the pressure on the service at one of the most challenging times in its history.

Seven million pounds has been allocated by population across all the ambulance services in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, including funding for sixty thousand additional volunteers and other community-focused projects.

Community First Responders are trained volunteers who are dispatched to emergency incidents when every second count – for example, if someone isn’t breathing, has chest pains, is unconscious or fitting – to administer basic life support until an ambulance service arrives.

Ambulance services across the UK have been dealing with the additional challenges of the Covid crisis. Thanks to the public’s support, NHS Charities Together is providing extra support for trained volunteers who will help reduce hospital admissions by giving the right care in the right place, ultimately helping to save lives.

A variety of projects will be funded across the UK, including:

  • Recruiting additional 60,000 volunteers.
  • Community access to defibrillators to help improve survival rates. Evidence shows that patients who are defibrillated by an out of hospital defibrillator alongside CPR could have a 50% increase in survival rate.
  • Dedicated first responder groups cars to enable a swifter response to emergencies.
  • Vital equipment such as tympanic thermometers, automatic blood pressure monitors and pulse oximeters to measure oxygen levels in the blood.
  • Training the community to respond to out of hospital cardiac arrest, including CPR training for schools and community groups, with community engagement officers in hard-to-reach areas.
  • Further training and other practical support for existing community first responders.

Ellie Orton, Chief Executive for NHS Charities Together, said:

“At this time of immense challenge for the NHS, we are delighted that we can make a real difference and ultimately help save lives by funding wonderful community first responder volunteers within the ambulance service.

“It’s thanks to the overwhelming support of the British public at this difficult time that we are able to fund these vital projects – the NHS has been doing an amazing job, but as an independent charity, we can provide additional support to help the NHS do more than it otherwise could. A heartfelt thank you to all of our supporters for helping us to keep on caring for the NHS, which will continue to need us now and in future as it recovers from the most challenging time in its history.”

Leeds-based Nick Huby, a BT Maintenance Engineer who has been a Community First Responder (CFR) for Yorkshire Ambulance Service for four years, said:

“When the team and I are responding to an emergency, every second count. Having cars and additional equipment will make all the difference to us being able to get to a patient quickly and get the best results for them – ultimately helping save lives and take pressure off the wider system.”

Funding has been made available to NHS charities based on 13 ambulance trusts covering the entire UK. Five projects are ready to begin, based on the London Ambulance Service, West Midlands Ambulance Service, South Central Ambulance Service, South Western Ambulance Service and Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

NHS Charities Together is an independent national charity caring for the NHS. It helps provide additional support to patients, NHS staff and volunteers, working through its 241 member charities based with hospitals, ambulance trusts, community health trusts, mental health trusts and health boards across the UK.

In total, NHS Charities Together’s COVID-19 Appeal raised £150 million thanks to the support from Captain Sir Tom and others. Over £118 million has already been made available to our 241 member charities to help patients, staff, and volunteers on the ground.

For more information about NHS Charities Together, please visit www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk.

charitytoday.co.uk | 25 March 2021

shutterstock 1696740631 scaled e1607606786147CALLS to recognise and continue the exemplary COVID-19 emergency response achieved by the voluntary and community sector (VCS) on the pandemic’s one year anniversary are gaining pace today.

From feeding families in need to deliver thousands of volunteers for vaccination rollouts, the VCS’ vital provision over the past year has been unprecedented. Yet, for many on the frontline, their capacity is stretched to the maximum as they support the country’s most vulnerable with the long-term impacts of the pandemic.

The VCS Emergencies Partnership (EP), which brings together organisations to improve coordination at national and local levels before, during and after emergencies, has today released new figures and research highlighting the crucial role of the VCS in supporting Britain’s most vulnerable in times of crisis and beyond.

Set up in response to the lack of coordination of voluntary and community services during the Grenfell tragedy and other domestic emergencies in 2017, the EP has connected over 200 local organisations with major national charities like British Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance to work together to deliver vital services to Britain’s most affected during COVID-19.

Speaking about the sector’s crucial role in the pandemic, Jehangir Malik, Programme Director at VCS Emergencies Partnership, said:

“Since the Grenfell tragedy, it was clear that we needed to unite the power of the voluntary and community sectors to utilise resources, reduce harm, and ultimately save lives in an emergency. This vision has come to life during the COVID-19 response. The coordinated efforts of individual volunteers, national and local organisations working tirelessly together to respond to the emerging needs over the pandemic have been heroic. But we must not stop here.

“We face a long COVID shadow, with the impact on Britain’s most vulnerable communities set to be wide-reaching. Yet much voluntary staff are on the verge of burnout and concerned for their futures, with emergency funds and resources depleted. We need to act now. We are calling on the government to ensure adequate support is put in place for those vital grassroots organisations who are lifelines to their communities and to preserve this successful model so that together we can keep driving systemic change and get the right support at the right time to those who need it most in the years to come.”

To further mark the COVID anniversary and highlight the acute need for ongoing collaboration across the VCS, the EP has also released early findings from new research into the impact of emergencies on Britain’s marginalised groups and how they can be better supported.

The research, which involved interviews with individuals at local specialist organisations in Bradford and Leeds, revealed a ‘trickle-down’ impact of COVID-19 on marginalised members of the community who already have existing complex needs. They reported that mental health issues, in particular, are increasing among more at-risk community members, as well as volunteers and staff, with the emotional toll of the crisis taking hold. They also shared that many COVID-19 grants are set to expire in the coming months, leaving voluntary organisations unsure as to how they will be able to meet their communities’ emerging needs.

Soo Nevison, CEO of Community Action Bradford & District, who has been involved in the EP at a local level, said:

“By being part of the Emergencies Partnership, we have been able to meet the needs of our communities, which would otherwise have gone unmet – whether that’s providing face coverings for our most vulnerable families to sourcing vital volunteers for an online befriending scheme. The opportunity to share good practice and connect with colleagues across the sector over the pandemic has, in turn, benefited communities from Cumbria to Cornwall. However, there remains much to do. The sector starts to face a funding crisis, and worry is growing about how we will continue our monumental efforts to keep our vulnerable and diverse communities safe beyond lockdown.”

To recognise the massive contribution from the voluntary and community sector in its COVID-19 response, the EP is holding a virtual event today. The webinar, which will be attended by Civil Society Minister, Baroness Barran MBE, and Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Steve Reed, will put a spotlight on the efforts and challenges of community groups since the start of the pandemic and share the EP’s recommendations to ensure marginalised communities are better supported in emergencies.

To find out more about the VCS Emergencies Partnership and their work over the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit www.vcsep.org.uk.

charitytoday.co.uk | 23 March 2021

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