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Charity First Love Foundation fears funding won’t keep up with demand

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 June 2020

First Love Foundation CEO Denise Bentley. Picture: First Love Foundation

First Love Foundation CEO Denise Bentley. Picture: First Love Foundation

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A charity supporting the vulnerable in one of London’s most deprived areas has seen a 900 percent increase in people turning to it but fears its funding levels won’t be enough to cope with demand.

The First Love Foundation in Tower Hamlets has offered emergency advice, support and food to thousands of people through its Enabling Lives Programme since it launched in 2010.

It saw a swell of donations in the first few weeks of the lockdown, but said they are now tapering off while demand continues to increase.

First Love receives no statutory funding and relies solely on personal and corporate donations.

CEO Denise Bentley said: “Covid-19 hit the borough of Tower Hamlets extremely hard. Everywhere has been affected but Tower Hamlets has the highest rate of child poverty in the UK.

“Children and adults who were already struggling have been pushed further into a disadvantaged place because of the direct, or indirect, impact of this virus.

“We’ve had to scale up our services and change the way we operate, hugely, to accommodate for this increase and to provide our service.

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“This meant some very quick changes.

“Somehow, we managed to do it. But it must be said – we aren’t happy or proud that our service is more in need than ever.

“Our biggest challenge now is sustaining our newly-scaled level of operation.”

Although First Love does provide food to those in need, it also offers a holistic model of support to help people begin living independently again so they will not require long-term charitable support.

Ms Bentley added: “Charities are heavily underfunded.

“The government could make an instant impact by allocating more funding directly to the small charity sector, which has been disproportionately affected.

“All the time there is a need, we will continue operations at this current scale.

“In order for us to do so, we need public donations to continue.”


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