An emergency appeal has been launched by disability charity Leonard Cheshire to raise money for vital personal protective equipment (PPE).
The charity said its services supporting 14,000 disabled people in communities could now be under threat due to a “sever funding gap” for PPE.
The additional costs of protecting frontline staff and residents has been immense, according to the charity, with spend on PPE this year to be in excess of £6 million, 20 times more than pre-pandemic levels.
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.
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.
The pandemic has disproportionately affected disabled people across the UK. A report from Public Health England published in November found that people with learning disabilities in England have died from coronavirus at a rate over six times higher than the general population.
With this in mind, Leonard Cheshire said enhanced protection has never been more critical.
The charity is now 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.”