Kathryn Rossiter landscape
By Kathryn Rossiter, Thrive CEO

So how is life on lockdown for you? That’s not an opening line I ever expected to be writing.

In fact ‘lockdown’ is just one of a whole new lexicon of words that have entered our daily lives in recent months – coronavirus, self-isolation, social distancing. The world we are currently in is a very different one to that we envisaged just a few short months ago.

Looking back at the Annual Plan and Budget I presented to the Thrive Board of Trustees in mid-March, its almost comical how unrealistic those objectives and targets sound just five weeks later!

Sector impact

The way in which this crisis is impacting on the charity sector is a very mixed picture. For some, workloads have gone through the roof, whilst for others operational work has completely dried up.

One thing we all have in common is our fundraising activities have been cancelled or postponed and income, always an area of concern, is now a very serious concern.

So whilst the future looks bleak, I very much doubt the amazing organisations that make up the charity sector are going to cut their losses, close up shop and disappear en masse.

Kathryn Rossiter

And we are now faced with a different set of uncertainties – how long will this last? What state will our gardens be in when we are able to get back to them? Will our clients be able to return? Some may choose not to, others may no longer have the funding available, some may sadly not survive the virus.

And overlying all of that, are the questions around how long our financial reserves will last? It is very likely that many organisations as well as people won’t make it through this crisis.

Glasshouse in Herb Garden Battersea
The deserted Herb Garden at Thrive London

Lifeline

The government’s furlough scheme is an absolute lifeline for Thrive and the many other charities that can no longer operate. But if your charity is on the frontline now and the demand for your services is outstripping your resources, the government’s £750m package for charities is likely only going to scratch the surface of the financial problems – at the time of writing, we are still waiting to hear details of how that money will be made available to the charities that need it.

The various other support packages the government has put in place just don’t work for charities and the NCVO has estimated that the charity sector will lose £4bn in income in three months.

So whilst the future looks bleak, I very much doubt the amazing organisations that make up the charity sector are going to cut their losses, close up shop and disappear en masse.

There are opportunities amongst all the threats, dreads and challenges

Kathryn Rossiter

We will find new ways to achieve our charitable purposes – we will likely need to recast our vision of what we need to create to reflect the different world that is emerging around us, and there will be changes in organisational structures, sizes and numbers with a refocusing of priorities and resources, and mergers and collaborations.

There are opportunities amongst all the threats, dreads and challenges.

The army of proactive, driven and talented individuals that make up the sector’s staff, volunteers, supporters and donors will still be there to support those in need, and they will need strong leaders to direct and channel their efforts to achieve the best outcomes.

We need to stay positive and be open to new ideas, opportunities and possibilities.

I hope that in a year or two, we can look back on this period and say, yes it was tough and we lost much but we have gained more.

Thrive club promotes gardening during lockdown

Thrive has launched a new Gardening Club to improve health and wellbeing during lockdown.

Find out more