Funding crisis prompts emergency Covid appeal

An emergency appeal has been launched by leading disability charity Leonard Cheshire. It has revealed a severe funding gap for life-saving protective equipment at its services for disabled people. 

Staff at ARBI in PPE
  • Charity reveals funding gap in frontline battle against new strains of Covid-19.
  • Wide ranging support in communities under threat.

The more infectious strains of Covid-19, and a sharp rise in numbers of cases mean that we need more personal protection equipment (PPE), as well as increased infection control measures to protect staff and residents.

Leonard Cheshire supports 14,000 disabled people through social care and its community programmes. Around 2,700 disabled people live in 120 residential and supported living services*.

The pandemic has disproportionately affected disabled people across the UK, who often have underlying health conditions and are particularly at risk during this time, so the need to provide enhanced protection has never been more critical.

Leonard Cheshire’s additional costs of protecting frontline staff and residents has been immense, with spend on PPE this year to be in excess of £6 million, 20 times more than pre-pandemic levels. 

Vast amounts of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are continuously needed by the charity to keep people safe. An average of 52,000 face masks and 2,500 protective gowns are among the items required every week across Leonard Cheshire services, in addition to increased infection control measures; cleaning, sanitation and protective screens.

Successful Leonard Cheshire programmes supporting disabled people in communities could now be under threat as a result, with the need to draw on other charity resources to meet unfunded Covid-19 costs from its services in England.

The UK Government is providing some PPE funding to help services in England combat the virus, but with continuing and escalating requirements, a fifth of PPE costs and half of Leonard Cheshire’s Covid-19 related costs in England are having to be met by charity funds, around £240,000 per month above monies received.** 

Government-provided free PPE is restricted and does not meet the total volume needed by the charity. Even after the vaccine becomes available at residential services, PPE use will still be a necessity for the foreseeable future, until the end of the pandemic crisis.

Leonard Cheshire is asking the public to show its support for frontline staff and residents in the weeks ahead, during what could be some of the darkest days of the pandemic. Its emergency appeal will run across national television and digital channels to raise awareness of the shortfall in funds.

Lyndsey Swarbrick, Service Manager at Greenhill House in Somerset said: “All the staff at Greenhill House have been heroes and the last ten months have tested us all.  There is perhaps some end in sight but the risks from Covid-19 remain severe and will challenge us daily for a long time yet. The amount of PPE we get through is astonishing but essential as we pull together to keep people safe. Please get behind services like ours and the charity’s fundraising push.”

Hugh Fenn, Managing Director of UK Community Services at Leonard Cheshire said: “New restrictions and pressures created by the latest pandemic strains mean there’s little respite for us at the frontline. Despite that, our staff have achieved some remarkable things and continued to deliver an extremely high standard of care. The safety of staff and the people we support is our top priority as always.

“Although vaccinations are starting, this pandemic is far from over and we are facing our most difficult months yet as a charity. Our ability to support disabled people in the months ahead is being undermined by our urgent response to the pandemic and the continued costs of providing essential PPE. We urgently need the public’s help during this time.”

Media enquiries

For further information, please contact Jon Sim in the Leonard Cheshire press office on or 020 3242 0313/07845 773 370.

Notes to editors

* In 2019/20, more than 11,000 individuals benefited from Leonard Cheshire’s employment, skills and volunteer programmes in communities. This support will be needed more than ever following the pandemic. Leonard Cheshire Annual Report 2019/20.

** £241,000 per month. Comprises £108,000 on PPE, as well as other Covid-19 related costs including infection control measures until March 2021.

Financial impact of Covid-19 on disabled people

The financial impact of Covid-19 has been brutal. More than 7 in 10 disabled people lost income, their jobs or were furloughed during the pandemic, with young people particularly affected. ‘Locked out of the labour market:  The impact of Covid-19 on disabled adults in accessing good work – now and into the future’. Leonard Cheshire 2020