Harrogate charity spotlights 'forgotten' groups who help the world's poorest

A Harrogate charity is highlighting the lack of support during Covid for small UK charities working overseas with a warning that it will hurt the world’s poorest.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 10:52 am
Updated Monday, 17th August 2020, 10:54 am
Harrogate charity's plea - An Open Arms staff member Eunice looks after little girl Tamala in Malawi.

Open Arms Malawi, which has close links to both the town and Ashville College, said it was expecting a 45% loss in available funds this year.

And the small charity, which provides care to vulnerable children in Malawi, the third poorest country in the world, says recent Government changes had made the situation even worse, making small UK organisations such as itself feel "forgotten."

Claire Collins, head of Open Arms Malawi's fundraising and UK operations, said: "Without additional funding, 45% of small charities working in international development will close within the next 12 months.

"We ourselves are expecting a 45% loss in available funds this year.

"Without this support we will be forced to reduce our team, cancel community projects and limit capacity of our services further.

"Our first response to COVID-19 was to protect the 90 children in our direct care.

"As Malawi shuts down services, we could to close our homes but we have worked with our staff to limit movement around them as much as possible by locking down and adapting the way we run our services."

Over the years Ashville College's biennial sponsored walk has raised more than £100,000 for vital supplies that helps Open Arms to operate.

In 2004, Harrogate Advertiser readers even helped name the charity's new centre in this land-locked nation to the north of Zimbabwe in east Africa.

Overseas charities such as Open Arms Malawi reacted with concern by the Government's announcement of the merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

That alarm grew when, on the last day of Parliament before recess, Dominic Raab announced a £2.9 billion cut to Britain's international aid budget.

Open Arms Malawi believes the whole future of small international development charities is now uncertain just when the need for them has never been greater.

Claire Collins, head of Open Arms Malawi's fundraising and UK operations, said: "We’ve had to invest in staff, equipment and specialist resources at a time when funding is extremely tight and cases of Covid 19 continue to rise in Malawi.

"Due to restrictions, our community support, of over 700 children, is now responding to children most at risk only and we’re working closely with the Social Welfare Department to understand and meet their demand through this difficult time.

"For financial reasons we could be forced to reduce our team, cancel community projects and limit capacity of our services further.

"This means that babies at risk in remote and difficult to reach communities will be put at further risk and some orphaned or abandoned children may not survive their early years.

"Other children will suffer from malnutrition and stunted growth or may be placed into long term institutional care as there are no alternatives.

"The bigger charities will struggle to reach these communities and they will become even more vulnerable. "

Open Arms Malawi provides essential care for Malawi's orphaned and abandoned children, giving them the chance to achieve their potential within the love and security of a home.

Its principal aim is to support the return of fit and healthy toddlers to their extended families.

By working closely with communities in Malawi, Open Arms seeks to build brighter futures for children and their families for generations to come.

The charity is far from alone in the predicament it now finds itself.

East African Playgrounds is a charity which has built over 350 playgrounds, bringing safe play and improved education for over half a million children. It It recently reported that it had seen “95% of its funding disappear overnight.”

For more information, visit www.openarmsmalawi.org

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