Macular Society appeals for urgent support

The charity is calling on the Government for support during the coronavirus pandemic

Cathy Yelf

The Macular Society has issued an appeal to the UK Government for support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The charity, which provides practical and emotional support for people with macular disease, has emphasised that its income is “threatened” as a result of the pandemic, but says “it cannot abandon its beneficiaries when they need help more than ever.”

The Macular Society has highlighted that the Charity Finance Group estimates that charities could lose £4bn of income in the next 12 weeks.

In an open letter to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, the Macular Society wrote: “The Government’s business support measures can only support charities if we stop operating our services and abandon the people who need us more than ever.”

However, it does not feel this is an option for it currently. “It would put other health and social care services under even more strain when they need us to help more not less,” the charity wrote.

“It may even increase the spread of COVID-19 if our service users need to call on friends and family for support,” it added.

While the charity has suspended its face-to-face services, including its 400-plus support groups that operate across the country, it has worked hard to implement online and teleconferencing facilities to enable its networks to run virtually and support its members in need.

In the letter, the Macular Society states: “The only thing we do know is that, as things stand, the prudent thing for the charity to do, from a financial point of view, is furlough as many staff as possible and claim the business support grants.

However, chief executive of the Macular Society, Cathy Yelf (pictured), stressed: “Charities cannot furlough staff when the support they provide is so vitally important. We must be there for the most vulnerable in our society. Sight loss already causes terrible loneliness, isolation and often severe depression and anxiety. We need urgent help to maintain services.”

OT endeavours to keep the most up-to-date news on our website and this information was correct when published. However, the situation regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. Please check OT’s rolling optics-specific coverage for the latest news and guidance on COVID-19.