Britain passed the peak2020欧洲杯体育投注开户 of the Covid-19 pandemic in April, but the financial damage is still only beginning to kick in. That month, the economy contracted a record 20 per cent – a shock whose effects will be felt for months and years.
Those effects include joblessness, hunger and misery. When furloughing ends and mass redundancies start to bite, when the eviction ban is lifted and other support schemes come to a close, more people than ever will face hardship – and will need help.
Telegraph readers in particular have shown great generosity during the pandemic. Since late March, you have donated more than £1,250,000 to our Coronavirus Appeal; we’re raising money for , a nationwide charity that supports people in financial difficulty and provides emergency grants to help pay bills and put meals on the table.
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户“The response from Telegraph readers has been exceptional, breathtaking,” says Thomas Lawson, chief executive of Turn2us. The charity has given out around £2 million of grants since the crisis began, mostly in the form of £500 awards for people facing acute hardship. To have such a grant, says Lawson, “suddenly means you can pay your mortgage, you can pay your rent, you can buy food”. He adds: “The mental health effects are huge, too. It lifts that profound anxiety about feeding your children and yourself.”
Yet, as the pandemic’s secondary effects now begin to hit, the charity predicts that demand for its services will only increase. “As the Government begins to get to the end of furloughing, and as businesses open up but struggle, we’ll see more people being made redundant,” says Lawson.
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户It’s striking, he says, that “we are all in the same appalling storm, but we’re not all in the same boat. People who were in reasonably insecure situations have been thrown into much more perilousness, and people running successful businesses and with hard-earned savings have fallen through the net too, despite the Government’s tremendous support”.
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户Those people will find, he warns, that Universal Credit is “designed to be challenging to live on, as an incentive to get back to work… but there’ll be fewer jobs to go around, too”.
As the first chapter of this crisis ends, and a new one begins, let’s remind ourselves of the good that public generosity can do. Take Ellie Bamber, who was working out her notice period when lockdown began. She had quit her job to become a community-based occupational therapist, a role suddenly rendered impossible by the crisis. Bamber’s prospective employer delayed her start date by three months, an imposition that she might have been able to cope with had she been able to keep up her part-time job teaching swimming.
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户Yet the pools were shut, too. Lockdown had cut off every source of income. Bamber, a 24-year-old from north Manchester, was snookered. “I was really panicking,” says Bamber, who lives with her mother, who has multiple sclerosis, and her sister, Jasmine, a 20-year-old college student. Between them, they tried to work out how they would get through the three months in which Bamber, who usually pays her share of the bills, was unemployed. Her mother receives income support; Jasmine, as a college student, receives some Universal Credit; and Bamber, because she cares for her mother, was eligible for a carer’s allowance, which secured the family an extra £67.25 per week.
“That was a big relief,” she says. Between the three of them, they could pay the bills and pay for food. But lockdown presented further challenges for Bamber, who has sensory and motor ataxia, a condition that makes it hard for her to get around. “I struggle to walk, and I swim to maintain muscle tone, but I can’t do that now.”
The first few weeks of lockdown, in which we were permitted one walk a day but advised not to sit down, were particularly problematic for people such as Bamber, who use crutches. “I’d walk around the park and be worried about stopping. I’ve got quite a lot of cartilage damage because my hips turn inwards, and I’m waiting for an operation, which has been put back – I know it’s going to be a while.”
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户Food shopping has become a similarly taxing experience, because of long stints of queuing. Bamber has an NHS-issue wheelchair, but “it’s hard to move. You can’t get it over a kerb”.
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户All but immobile, Bamber knew she needed an improved wheelchair. “But they’re £7,000,” she says. She applied to two charities for help: the Elifar Foundation, which supports disabled people, and Turn2us, which supports people in financial hardship. The charities gave Bamber £3,500 each, teaming up to fund a new chair, in Bamber’s favourite shade of pink. It is currently being adjusted, which is why she is pictured here in a borrowed pale green one, but she has already given the new chair a spin. “It’s brilliant. I absolutely love it. It’s just so much easier. It’s so different from my chair from the NHS. It means I can be out and about longer.”
To donors, she says: “Thank you so much. These grants have made such a massive difference to me.”
She is now looking forward to beginning her new job and resuming the community project she leads: a swimming group for disabled children and young people.
For Sebastian Sandys, a 58-year-old Londoner, the end of the crisis is much less visible. Prior to the pandemic, Sandys had two main income sources: representing members of the Unite union at hearings, and maintaining two Airbnb properties. By the end of March, as lockdown began and his bookings were cancelled, he had none. “It took 13 days for the rest of my income this year to disappear before my eyes,” he says. “It’s probably the most frightening thing that’s ever happened to me.”
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户He applied for a Turn2us £500 coronavirus grant and, to his tremendous relief, he had the money in his account two days later. To receive that kind of quick support, he says, means “you know you’ve got some food and can pay for the next couple of weeks while you apply for Universal Credit”. Since then, Sandys has raised £700 for Turn2us via an appeal on Facebook. His ordeal has been, he says, the kind of excitement you can do without at the age of 58. “If this had happened when I was 25,” he jokes, “it would have been an adventure.”
Lynsey Cooper, 25, who works in events, recounts “a mental few months”. Cooper had signed a fixed-term contract that was supposed to run from March to June. “Then coronavirus hit, sadly, and because I started on March 2, I missed the cut-off point for being able to be furloughed.”
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户Cooper had no income, but lots of bills. She was in “pure panic”. Fortunately, Turn2us issued her a £500 grant, helping her to bridge the gap to her unexpected new job: a support worker in NHS mental health services. Cooper must still complete her training, which is unpaid and has been slowed by social-distancing measures, but is relieved to have the prospect of employment. “I’m treating it as temporary, but you never know, it might be my calling.”
To make a donation to the Telegraph Coronavirus Appeal, visit axispilates.com/appeal or call 0151 284 1927 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)