Help for Peterborough’s charities was vital

C harities matter at any time. None matter more to me than those in Peterborough, who are doing such great work during this emergency. I was incredibly worried about the impact of Coronavirus emergency on their donations and finances, writes MP for Peterborough Paul Bristow.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 18th April 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 18th April 2020, 6:19 am
Thorpe Hall Hospice
Thorpe Hall Hospice

The shortfall for the Sue Ryder hospice at Thorpe Hall appeared in this paper last week. It wasn’t alone, as I know from the Little Miracles charity in Ravensthorpe, which supports the families of children with disabilities. The lockdown is having a terrible effect on many charities’ ability to raise funds.

For over a fortnight, I spoke directly to Ministers about this problem. I also raised the funding of hospices at the Health and Social Care Select Committee. Thankfully, once again, the Government has listened.

Last week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £750 million support package for charities, with £200 million ring-fenced specifically for hospices. This will go straight to the front line, with a particular focus on those who are helping vulnerable people during the current emergency.

When the news came through, the first thing I did was to ring several charities in Peterborough to talk through the plans. I don’t mind admitting there were a few tears – and that was just me!

It was a great relief. We must now ensure this money goes where it’s needed.

Inevitably, not every charity in our city will be able to benefit, although there will be an open application process, managed by the National Lottery Community Fund. Nor will this scheme meet every need.

Our charities still need your donations, now more than ever, so please do give generously if you can. I will also continue doing what I can to support them, particularly those I know well.

When I first visited the hospice at Thorpe Hall, I didn’t know what to expect. I found a place of love, care and even laughter. The work they do to support people who are at their most vulnerable is wonderful. From reading this column, you may know that my father is seriously ill. It gives me and my family a great deal of comfort that the hospice is there, should he need it.

Similarly, Little Miracles is a lifeline for many in Peterborough. I have close friends in Ravensthorpe, who have a disabled child. Every couple of days, between the tough times at hospital, I hear about the fun and emotional support they have all experienced thanks to this charity.

Peterborough is a caring city. It’s why we have so many special charities based here, who have found a place in our hearts. Some of them support rough sleepers. Some have a religious basis, with both Christian and Muslim charities supporting those in need, whether here or abroad. Some look after our open spaces. Others advocate or fundraise on behalf of people and patients with different conditions. All provide the kind of support that a government could never hope to replicate.

The Prime Minister talked about love in his incredible message of thanks to the NHS. It is powered by love.

Your love powers our charities. This Government is doing what it can to help, but I know the people of 
Peterborough will step up and help too, from volunteering to donations.

You already are, because it’s what we do.