The global COVID-19 pandemic has hit all businesses and organisations hard, but the ever-underfunded charity sector has been struggling more than ever. Despite lockdown regulations and a drop in funding and donations, women’s charities have been working overtime to provide their usual support for women across the UK who are suffering due to COVID-19.

We know that victims of violence against women and girls have been granted some reprieve from the lockdown rules, and shelters and helplines have been reporting a more than 50% increase in calls from women suffering male violence since lockdown began. Women’s charities are also working with disadvantaged women who are the worst-affected by economic crises such as this.

Women living in destitution, single mothers lacking income and childcare, and minoritised women are, as ever, suffering most in this pandemic and the women’s charity sector’s life-saving work to support them doesn’t stop because the country’s in quarantine. In fact, we know that deaths as a result of violence against women and girls has more than doubled since UK lockdown began.

But despite these pressures, the women’s sector has been more collaborative than ever. WRC has been leading this collaborative work by launching discussions with organisations and influential individuals such as the Deputy Mayor of London, Sophie Linden, and the Department of Digital, Culture, Sport and Media to affect changes that will support the women’s sector as a whole. As a result, two deadline extensions have been granted – for the Tampon Tax Fund 2020-21 and the refuge provision – giving smaller organisations more time to apply for funding. 

Furthermore, WRC reallocated donations to its #PayBacktheTamponTax campaign to support Mama Health and Poverty Partnership (MHaPP) in Manchester. This saw a record number of donations in one day, with over 50 supporters contributing to the pot which will act as income for MHaPP during the pandemic.

This collaborative work is the bringing-together of the sector, 50 years after the start of the Women’s Liberation Movement. An example of this is WRC’s collaborative work with London Funders, to develop support through funding for specialist-led ‘by and for’ local community organisations. Now, there is the opportunity for funding structures to become more inclusive of smaller women’s organisations, which may help them to deal with inherent structural inequality achieved through independent trusts and foundations.

Our intended impact is to change practices for the good of the sector at large, and to reach and provide real support for women’s communities in frontline hardship, allowing funders to change, adapt, and become agile for the sector’s current and future needs.