Drums at Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy

An open letter to MPs calling for emergency support for charities during the Coronavirus outbreak

Nordoff Robbins CEO, Sandra Schembri, has written an open letter to MPs, calling for an emergency fund to support charities during the Coronavirus outbreak.

To Members of Parliament,

Like many other charities, we are being severely impacted by the current Coronavirus outbreak and national lockdown. Given the vulnerable people we work with we have had to temporarily stop all our face-to-face music therapy provision to protect their health and that of our staff. But we know for many of those we support we are a vital lifeline for social connection, mental health and wellbeing. So we are exploring ways we can provide some form of music therapy remotely online as quickly as possible.

More than ever making music matters; it can unite people and lift spirits in a way few other activities can, helping people connect with themselves. And so we are doing everything we can to respond to the growing need in our communities for ways to help people cope with social isolation and maintain their mental wellbeing. As part of this we’re developing virtual online choirs and creating digital resources for people to make music together at home. You can find out more on our website at www.nordoff-robbins.org.uk.

However, the rapid shutdown of society has caused massive financial pressure on charities and other social sector organisations at extremely short notice. Fundraising events are being cancelled and trading revenues are drying up overnight, resulting in immediate cash flow problems. Here at Nordoff Robbins we have had to cancel most of our fundraising activities for the next few months which means we have no guaranteed income coming in at the moment.  We currently expect to lose around 75% of our fundraising income in 2020, which amounts to over £5m.

Without swift, substantial and simple financial help from national government, charities like ours in your constituency could go under in the coming days and weeks. Even larger, national, more well-known charities are at risk of insolvency. Those with reserves they were saving for a rainy day. This is a torrential storm so even those with healthy reserves before this pandemic are at risk of not being here in a matter of months. Literally every day counts to save our charity sector at a time when charities and the charity sector are #nevermoreneeded

Since the Budget on 11 March and the subsequent announcement of emergency measures to deal with the pandemic, representative bodies in the charity sector have been working with HM Treasury and the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport on a range of policies to keep the charity sector afloat at this crucial time.

Some initiatives were announced by the Chancellor on Friday 20 March but these are unfortunately insufficient to stop many charities from collapsing. For example, financial support for charities to furlough staff will not be as helpful as it is for businesses whose demand has dried up, because charities like ours are experiencing increased demand during the crisis. Furloughing staff might help some charities to survive for a few months but it does not help charities to serve the rising social need.

There are things you can do to help Britain’s charities to survive this crisis so they can continue to serve communities. I would be extremely grateful if you could do any or all of the following actions:

  1. Please write today to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP and ask him to urgently:
    • Establish a £4 billion emergency stabilisation fund for the charity sector to help it support the crisis response and avoid charities collapsing. This figure is a conservative forecast based on the best available data about the income charities will lose over the next three months. This fund would help charities to: a) not close down at short notice; b) keep providing key services of all kinds; c) mobilise and organise the necessary volunteering effort to combat the pandemic.
    • Make the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme eligible for all charities, not just those that receive over 50% of their income from trading (which is the current position). This scheme has been put in place to support businesses through the economic interruption but all charities should be eligible.
  1. If you are on twitter, please tweet the hashtag #Nevermoreneeded to colleagues and other influential people in the media to show your support – you can tweet an image of your letter to the Chancellor and campaigning charities will amplify your message.


These are unprecedented times but if we all pull together and get the right support in place charities can bounce back and continue to make their vital contribution to creating a fairer, healthier and happier society.

Yours sincerely,

Sandra Schembri
CEO, Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy

We’ve joined with other charities in a national campaign. Add your support by writing to your MP and by sharing your voice on Twitter using #NeverMoreNeeded