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The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon London’s Civil Society so far

The streets of London are emptying out as Boris Johnson asks us to stay at home. But what effect is this having on charities in London?

Last week we circulated a survey to ascertain the impact that COVID-19 or Coronavirus Disease is having on charities and wider civil society in London. It covered the following areas:

  • Personal Awareness of Coronavirus
  • Impact upon staffing
  • Financial impact
  • Impact upon service delivery

Thank you so much for those of you who filled in the survey. We received 201 responses which is really great and will enable us to build a wide picture of the impact that COVID-19 is having on the sector in the capital.

The survey highlighted that Covid-19 was already affecting the sector’s ability to function, even before the weekend and the measures announced yesterday by the government. Staffing problems as well as financial difficulties have hit the sector. This looks likely to worsen markedly in coming days and weeks.

Key findings from the survey:

One in six organisations had staff who have had to self-isolate.

One in five organisations had already seen cuts in capacity because of staffing problems or drops in volunteer numbers.

More than one in seven say their organisation’s finances have been hit.

(While donations have not yet been hit, events are being cancelled, a trend which is likely to worsen dramatically.)

Who responded to the survey?

92% of respondents identified as non-profit. The other category was varied such as universities, social enterprises and Community Interest Companies (CIC’s).

All participants were aware of Coronavirus, prior to filling out the survey.

Please click on the images to see the graphs and charts more clearly. 

Participant’s pre existing Attitudes towards Covid-19

1 = Not Concerned, 10 = Extremely Concerned

On a scale of 1-10, how concerned are you about contracting the Coronavirus?

On a scale of 1-10, how concerned are you about contracting the Coronavirus?

 

 

 

 

The Majority (23%) were neutral. However, spread distributed more towards the right of the bar which suggests that participants have some anxiety about contracting the virus (they were more concerned than not).

On a scale of 1-10, how concerned are you about family or friends contracting the Coronavirus?

On a scale of 1-10, how concerned are you about family or friends contracting the Coronavirus?

 

Anxiety with regards to the wellbeing of friends and family is greatest. The spread distributed significantly to the right of the bar with “Extremely Concerned” scoring highest at 20%.

8.3% had not changed their habits to prevent themselves from contracting the virus. However, many participants have been using the following precautions:

  1. Additional Handwashing (91.2%)
  2. Carrying and using Hand Sanitiser (46.1%)
  3. Taking precautions when travelling (45.1%)
  4. Taking vitamin supplements/modifying their diets (19.6%)

7.6% of participants had been self isolating last week, however this was less at the beginning of the week and started to increase towards the end of the week.

Organisational impact

Have you noticed an increase in staff and/or volunteer absence since COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) began in January?

Have you noticed an increase in staff and/or volunteer absence since COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) began in January?

 

 

 

 

 

Significantly, 17% of staff have had to self-isolate. That means one in seven charities have reduced capacity due to self-isolation.

[There is also] “Additional strain on staff trying to cover shifts vacated by volunteers”.

There were also many charities who anticipated for the impact to increase over the coming weeks.

[The impact] is “low at the moment but we anticipate this will be an increasing problem as the majority of our staff work in front line delivery and so can’t work from home”.

Financial Impact

1 = Strongly Agree, 5 = Strongly Disagree

"COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) has had a notable financial impact on my organisation"

“COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) has had a notable financial impact on my organisation”

 

 

 

 

The majority of participants had not yet seen a notable financial impact on their organisation, with the spread distributed more towards the “I strongly disagree” end of the bar. There was a similar trend when asked if they had noticed a decrease in funding opportunities since COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) emerged in January.

 1 = Not Concerned, 10 = Extremely Concerned

How concerned are you about the financial impact of COVID-19 on the voluntary sector?*

How concerned are you about the financial impact of COVID-19 on the voluntary sector?

 

 

 

 

However, overall participants are concerned about the impact that COVID19 will have on the voluntary sector in the coming weeks with answers clustering towards “extremely concerned”.

“Our retail outlets (vital to the charity’s work) are seeing very few customers now.”
“Funding that might have been allocated for community, could now be diverted to emergency planning”.

Impact upon service delivery

1 = Strongly Agree, 5 = Strongly Disagree

"I'm concerned about the impact of Coronavirus on my organisation's capacity to deliver its services"*

“I’m concerned about the impact of Coronavirus on my organisation’s capacity to deliver its services”

 

 

The sector have significant anxiety about service delivery (answers clustering towards left hand “strongly agree” end of the bar), with “neutral” being the most popular response by only 0.5% (agree was second most popular at 25.3%)

"I'm concerned about the impact of Coronavirus upon on my organisation's service users"

“I’m concerned about the impact of Coronavirus upon on my organisation’s service users”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The majority of participants (26.6%) were also concerned about the impact of Coronavirus upon their organisation’s service users with many working with vulnerable people.

"The Coronavirus's impact upon my work is a significant source of stress for me"

“The Coronavirus’s impact upon my work is a significant source of stress for me”

Agreement about personal impact (12%) vis-a-vis agreement about communal impact and service users at 29%. Thus, COVID-19 is not a significant source of personal stress for participants (majority neutral at 31%), but anxiety about service users and the community is significant.

Anxiety about the Coronavirus is impacting the well-being of my staff and/or volunteers, as well as our organisation's service users"

Anxiety about the Coronavirus is impacting the well-being of my staff and/or volunteers, as well as our organisation’s service users”

Community concern

Interestingly, anxiety about COVID-19 is largely community orientated. Participants expressed greater concern about the wellbeing of their service users, friends and family than themselves. Therefore it is not at all surprising that civil society organisations are increasingly concerned about their capacity to deliver services. Organisations should anticipate both issues with staffing and further disruption to events as more individuals choose to self-isolate to protect colleagues and the wider community.

Are concerns about Covid-19 increasing?

From an initial analysis it looks like most of the results did not vary during the week as more respondents filled in the survey; therefore the aggregate figures give an accurate reflection of opinion during the week. If, as seems likely based on news coverage, opinions have worsened in recent days, including with the cancellation of many fundraising events and the postponement of the London Marathon. We would expect a follow-up survey to reflect this deterioration. We need to do more analysis of the data thought to be sure about this, after which we will carry out a further survey.

How can I get involved?

The situation is changing rapidly and we want to share up-to-date and accurate information with the sector and, also, with key funders and policy-makers to help inform how they respond to the crisis.

We are currently carrying out our second survey. It will take no longer than 10 minutes.

You may also have your own data or intelligence which you would like to share with us. This would be great! If you do, please email info@londonplus.org.