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Charities facing an ‘existential threat’ due to the impact of coronavirus have been thrown a lifeline by London’s largest independent grant-giver. City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, gives grants of over £25 million a year to organisations across the capital, but the cash must...

Charities facing an ‘existential threat’ due to the impact of coronavirus have been thrown a lifeline by London’s largest independent grant-giver.

City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, gives grants of over £25 million a year to organisations across the capital, but the cash must usually be used for specific projects.

Now, the trust is telling over 400 of its active grantees they can use up to 12 months of this funding for core day-to-day running costs such as paying staff, renting premises and covering essentials such as energy and phone bills.

It is urging other funders to follow suit, to offer much-needed flexible support to charities and voluntary organisations battling soaring demand for services at a time when many have seen regular income streams plummet.

Dhruv Patel, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said: “At this time of national crisis, charities and voluntary organisations are needed more than ever, and the selfless work of their volunteers on the frontline is an inspiration to us all.

“The sudden drop in income experienced across the voluntary sector means many organisations face an existential threat, which has worrying implications for the communities and vulnerable people who rely on their services.

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“We hope that giving our grantees the choice to direct funding to where they feel it’s most needed will provide a lifeline to help them get through the crisis, and I really hope other funders will consider making the same offer if they can.”

Kentish Town-based Gingerbread is the only national charity supporting single parents and runs groups across London and England and Wales allowing single-parent families to get together. Like many specialist charities, it has seen an explosion in demand for its services since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Jo Hardy, head of services at Gingerbread, said: “For single parents, we are the Covid-19 frontline service. Lockdown, the fear of you or your child getting ill, loss of income, isolation, separation from friends and family and home schooling are difficult for everyone, but it’s even more demanding when you’re the only adult in the house.

“We responded to the pandemic by scaling up our services as quickly as possible while cutting all the costs we could. We didn’t furlough anyone as everyone was needed to support the single parents reaching out to us. All our fund-raising efforts are directed towards applying for Covid-19 emergency funds.

“We very much welcome this gesture by City Bridge Trust, which helps ease the financial pressures we face and gives us the flexibility to continue to be the solution for single parents to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.”

Gingerbread runs groups in and around London in Hackney, North West London, N1, Old Street, Finsbury, Lambeth, City, Enfield, Beckton, Barking and Dagenham, Waltham Forest and Thurrock.

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