In recent weeks we’ve seen society take to look after one another in this time of crisis. For many of us at SOS-UK, we’ve been reaching out to neighbours, checking in on older or more vulnerable relatives and friends, and .
As an organisation, we are fortunate some of our delivery can be done remotely. Thank you to all our partner organisations for working with us to adapt to new ways of working so quickly. From our respective homes, we’ve delivered Green Impact audits on Zoom, SDG curriculum mapping sessions on Skype for Business, and kept up momentum onboarding new student volunteers to the Teach the Future campaign.
It’s at times like these that organisations really show their true values and we have been proud to see many of our partner organisations stepping up to do the right thing:
This is something we’ve been hearing again and again from staff and students in recent weeks: at this time, more than ever, it’s important to connect with people virtually, contribute to something positive, and continue to feel a part of your network.
Some students have shared with us that by continuing to volunteer virtually, they’ve sustained a feeling of connection to their college or university despite having returned to their home town or having had to leave the country. A lovely .
This has not been easy, though, and we, like many charities, have concerns about how this will impact our fiscal position in the year ahead. About 50% of our income is through direct programme sales with universities, colleges, and students’ unions and so unless there is sufficient government support to ensure the stability of the further and higher education sector, we, too, will bear the impact. Likewise, the NHS trusts, local authorities, and other off-campus organisations we work with are also experiencing unprecedented changes to their operations. Many of the people we work most closely with have already been furloughed. Some of our team have opted to go on furlough and we are working together as a team to support colleagues who are juggling caring commitments with work. Our aim is to respond to this in a compassionate and empathetic manner and, for those on furlough, we are topping up salaries to 100% to ensure none of our exceptional team face any undue financial hardship.
Whilst we may not know what the coming academic year will hold, we can see that this current crisis demonstrates to us that people can come together, support one another, and make individual and collective sacrifices for the common good. Government and businesses, too, can cooperate and act urgently when there is the political will to do so. We have seen again, tragically, that the injustices in society mean that Black, Asian, and minority ethnic people , , and those in poverty and are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Indeed, these serve as crucial reminders that other crises already existed and cannot be forgotten as we go onto face the climate crisis and ecological emergency. All require urgent, bold, collective, and just responses.