Public provide vital boost for hard-hit charities

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Public support for those less fortunate at Christmas has remained strong, despite the economic downturn, according to several local charities. Public support has been a particular boost to funding this year as private and corporate donations are hit by recession.

Following Concern’s special thanks to the Derry public this week, Peter Anderson, Head of Concern NI, has said “without public support, our work would be under huge pressure. It’s a tough climate for corporate donations, but we have a very strong public support base in Derry.”

Cormac Wilson, spokesperson for the Society of St Vincent de Paul, said: “We have received huge help in the past from the private sector, but some are not in a position to continue. Thankfully, an increase in small donations has made up for this; the general public’s amazing support has continued. We have noticed a 20-25 percent increase in demand for our services, but the generosity of the public and the commitment of our staff has meant we have been able to cope with that.”

Foyle Search and Rescue has also felt the impact of recession, according to Funding Administration Officer, Amy Coll.

“Funding has been more difficult to obtain. We have to apply for a lot, and that has been getting worse for the last two years. Large amounts are very difficult to get, but thankfully we haven’t been so affected by the economic downturn because we’re so well supported by the public. Our recent flag day was the best yet.”

Charity fundraising has changed its nature as a result of the struggling economy, with several charities highlighting that it is no longer a case of simply receiving large cash donations from companies. Claire Trainor, of Northern Ireland Hospice, said: “There has certainly been a change. It used to be about cash from corporates but we now have more emphasis on volunteering and services, and we are constantly overwhelmed by the generosity of the public.” Head of Fundraising at Foyle Hospice, Ciaran McGinley, has also praised the public’s generosity this Christmas, which has been a vital help in light of some events being affected by reduced sponsorship.

Each charity spoken to expressed their thanks and appreciation of the Derry public’s generosity despite the tough times.

Eamon Melaugh, who also reported that donations are down very slightly at Action with Effect, said: “With all the appeals at Christmas, everyone’s heart is broken. But I have the privilege of living among some extraordinarily generous people.”