In December 2019 the outbreak of COVID-19 started in Wuhan, China. In February 2020, the first UK transmission is confirmed. In March, the UK Government imposed regulations and restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus and in late March the Government announced a nationwide lockdown.

At the time of writing Britain has the worst coronavirus death toll in Europe. Moreover, the rate of infection per head of population is highest among populations where there were existing health inequalities. Office for National Statistics analysis shows people living in more deprived areas of England and Wales are more likely to die with coronavirus than those in more affluent places. Recent statistics suggest that a third of people critically ill with coronavirus are from ethnic minorities.

The home is the least safe space for many women and children. The UK’s National Domestic Abuse line has seen a 25% increase in online requests and calls since the lockdown.  On April 14th, the Victims’ commissioner for England and Wales told MPs that the number of women killed by men was the highest it’s been for at least 11 years with 16 domestic homicides during the first three weeks of lockdown, including those of children. This survey identifies concerns that the lockdown is triggering a steep decline in women’s mental health and predicts that this will be long lasting, again increasing the vulnerability risk to women and their children.

It is widely recognised that specialist women’s voluntary community organisations (VCOS) are best placed to ensure the safety of women and children.Yet, as this report clearly highlights, the coronavirus outbreak poses a real threat to the sustainability and survival of these very organisations and a precarious future for the UK’s women’s sector as a whole.

Based on survey findings, this report calls for Women’s Resource Centre to lead a national campaign for the protection of the UK women’s voluntary and community sector including the provision of dedicated funding to sustain women’s VCOs throughout and beyond the coronavirus crisis.

For the UK’s Black and minoritised women led sector the situation is even more urgent and pressing. There is significantly less confidence that Black and minoritised women led organisations will survive the COVID-19 crisis, particularly as they were in a weakened position at the outset.

This report calls upon the UK government to make unrestricted emergency funds available to sustain Black and minoritised women led organisations in both the short-term and the long term. 



All reports in the series

The Crisis of COVID-19 and UK Women's Charities 

The Crisis of COVID-19 and London's Women's sector