St John Ambulance could run out of money - while it supports the NHS

15 April 2020, 11:33

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Charities are facing a funding black hole in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, with some vital organisations in the fight against the virus just months away from going broke.

One charity is dedicating all its resources to supporting the NHS in the fight against coronavirus but has seen its usual income streams cut due to the lockdown.

St John Ambulance only has enough money to keep operating until August.

The organisation is currently undertaking its largest peacetime operation, with up to 15,000 volunteers supporting the NHS and communities across the country, including crewing ambulances all controlled from their Joint Operations Coordination Cell.

LBC News visited the JOCC and spoke to some volunteers, Hannah said the charity was providing support of a large number of NHS trusts and ambulance services across the South East of the UK.

The charity will also be deploying more than 750 volunteers to support the NHS and help staff the new NHS Nightingale hospital.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently unveiled a £750m package to assist the country’s frontline charities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Organisations providing essential services and supporting vulnerable people will be eligible to receive direct funding from the government out of a £360m pool.

These will include hospices, St Johns Ambulance, victims charities, vulnerable children charities and citizens advice.

The Chancellor said: “Our charities are playing a crucial role in the national fight against coronavirus, supporting those who are most in need.“It’s right we do everything we can to help the sector during this difficult time, which is why we have announced this unprecedented £750 million package of extra funding.  “This will ensure our key charities can continue to deliver the services that millions of people up and down the country rely on.”

St John Ambulance staff at the new NHS Nightingale hospital
St John Ambulance staff at the new NHS Nightingale hospital. Picture: PA

A spokesperson said: "St John Ambulance has reduced all usual activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the charity is focussing all of its efforts on supporting the NHS in this health emergency.

"While the Government’s commitment to core funding is an extremely welcome boost during this crisis, we must still rely on the public for significant funding to ensure our survival."

The charity revealed their usual income streams were not available, their spokesperson said: "Coronavirus has stopped the activities that would normally bring in income; our first aid training and event cover, along with big fundraising challenges have all been cancelled.

"That’s why we’re preparing to launch an emergency appeal to help us with our target of raising at least £6 million, later this week."

St John Ambulance is now focused on supporting the NHS
St John Ambulance is now focused on supporting the NHS. Picture: LBC News

Martin Houghton-Brown, the Chief Executive of St John Ambulance told the Mirror newspaper all charities delivering services to help fight coronavirus should be directly funded by the government to do so.

He told the paper: "St John had a sustainable income model, like a lot of independent charities that don't depend on government.

“We receive from our training business and our event business £1.5 million a week and that helps us to subsidise our support for the nation both in terms of how we deliver to communities and to homeless services and the nighttime economy and so on.

"The cost of delivering for Covid-19 operations is £1.6 million a week. So we've had £1.45 million turned off, and £1.6 million turned on.

"And whilst the NHS have been superb in their cooperation and support for us, they can't lift this on their own. We need the Treasury to step up...to support organisations."

He added: “Our entire organisation is now delivering for Covid-19. And quite frankly if the support doesn't come we will run out of money.”

Mr Houghton-Brown revealed the impact of the first aid charity on football, as they are the only provider of medical assistance for matches.

He said: "It would be impossible to turn the Premiership back on if St John was unable to step back into that role."

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