As we see the economic impact of Covid19 unravel, we are seriously concerned about the increasing number of people being pushed into poverty and unemployment. We have had to cancel all face-to-face support and yet many of the people we support across Scotland do not have a laptop, tablet or phone to help stay in touch. During lockdown we accessed emergency funding so to purchase equipment for service users, but the breadth of impact from Covid19 has yet to be realised.
We have found that many of the people we already work with have needed more intensive support this year. Many of our service users already experience poor mental health and social isolation, which has been worsened by the pandemic. Those who are homeless, or who have no access to public funds, have also been severely impacted. Staff from our frontline services have been working to stay connected with service users through regular phone and video contact. We’ve been delivering food, medication, and other essential items to those who are socially isolating or shielding. We have continued to run our infant formula milk scheme, delivering milk to families across the Central Belt to reduce the risk of mothers passing HIV onto their babies.
All of this work is taking place at the same time as we are facing a significant drop in income. We rely on generous donations and fundraising from the general public to fund our vital services. We’ve had to cancel or postpone all of our fundraising events for the foreseeable future, and with the cancellation of the Edinburgh Fringe, we’ve experienced a significant loss of donations amounting to around £200,000 (70% of our annual fundraising). This drop in income has put additional strain on our support services when our service users need us most.
Nonetheless, we are optimistic about the future. Waverley Care will launch a new 5-year strategy in 2021 and we will look to take advantage of all we have learned about engaging people digitally. The stigma and myths which negatively impact people living with HIV remains an issue that we will look to address. We will also continue to adapt our fundraising model so that we can be more resilient going forward. We can only do this with the support of organisations such as The Royal Caledonian Charities Trust. Thank you for all you have done for us.