Working to reduce people’s risk of poverty during COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 is having a far-reaching impact across our society. What does it mean for people already caught up in poverty before it began?

How should our Governments and others respond to COVID-19? And how can we prevent more of us from being swept into poverty or pulled deeper into hardship as this storm breaks over us? With these questions in mind, JRF colleagues and our board of trustees agreed we should play three roles during this time, guided by our central mission, long-term ambitions and where we can add most value to the work being done by others across our sector:

  • As a funder and an ‘amplifier’ of the voices of people who experience poverty. We are supporting our partners (including grassroots organisations, community groups and activists with direct experience of poverty) to ease the pressure people are under and ensure we all come through this period safely. Nationally, we have committed a sizeable donation to Crisis which will in turn support grassroots organisations and local service partners. We are also finalising grants to other organisations to tackle digital exclusion. These are in addition to local grants to support community response efforts in York and the surrounding areas. We are also supporting our lived-experience partners with flexible funding to enable them to advocate for the solutions which will make the most difference to them and their communities.
  • As a source of solutions. We will advise on practical solutions that Government and employers can adopt, to prevent people already in poverty from being pulled into deeper hardship, and stop more people being swept into poverty. This includes recommendations for enhancing the public services we all rely on; during the outbreak and as we move into the aftermath and recovery - rebuilding our economy to improve living standards for those in or at risk of being pulled into poverty.
  • Finally, we will be a strong voice holding governments and others to account for how their actions meet our collective obligation to protect people on low incomes from bearing the brunt of this outbreak. To understand this, we need to look beyond our usual sources; at other data, as well as commissioning our own research to fill in gaps. Our expert analysts are focusing on key themes and potential data sources, scanning what is being produced by a range of organisations to piece together an accurate picture of the current situation, ably assisted by our policy experts and lived-experience partners.

JRF’s programme of work is ambitious; responding to the scale of the need both immediately, and after the outbreak stage passes and the nation begins to reboot.

This pandemic has shown just how much we all need each other and the strength of our common values of compassion and justice. Across the country, families, neighbours and communities are coming together to take care of one another even while we are separated. Our Government has taken steps which were unthinkable only weeks ago, vowing to do ‘whatever it takes’ to get us all through this. We must continue to pull together and go further to make changes which will ease the pressure on those struggling to stay afloat and enable us to rebuild an economy and services which do more to free people from poverty and build our national resilience. Hopefully this blog and the links it contains will give current and potential partners a sense of our role and focus, and where there might be scope to work together to make a real difference.