THE Third Sector is in crisis, in some cases terminally so. The charity sector which pre-pandemic employed over 900,000 people and was worth £53.5bn has, since March 2020, almost ground to a shuddering halt.

Charitable bodies of all sizes, unprepared and under-resourced as many were at the time, warned that without urgent and targeted intervention from the Government, they stood to lose well over £4bn in income in the first 12 weeks of the crisis alone and that many smaller charities, in particular those with little or no reserves in place, faced imminent collapse.

Depressing figures and circumstances that were to sadly become a reality, and which as events chair of the fantastic Music Therapy charity Nordoff Robbins in Scotland, greatly concerned me then as it does now.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak did provide a £750 million package of funding for frontline charities, but it was a drop in the ocean, with only 12,700 charities out of the estimated 160,000, the lucky few, benefitting from this emergency fund. By September of that year, almost 6,000 charities across the UK, vital services for some of the most vulnerable members of our society, had sadly been forced to close.

As the dark days of Covid-19 stretched into dismal weeks and even darker months, a bleak and very worrying report published in January 2021 by the respected charity consultants NPC, backed by Pro Bono Economics, warned of a lot worse to come unless additional emergency core funding from Government was forthcoming, and directed to those charities whose traditional income and fund-raising streams had been decimated by lockdowns and restrictions, and whose bankruptcy was imminent.

With the economy slowing down, people donate less, and the funding gap between income and expenditure across the charitable sector is now set to reach a staggering £10bn, leading to over 60,000 redundancies. Along with swingeing cuts from local authorities, one in 10 charities and community organisations now look set to close. The plethora of charity shops that proliferate on our High Streets, which once raised over £330 million a year, have been pulling the shutters down at an alarming rate, losing over £285 million in sales during the first lockdown, and another £91.8 million loss projected for the coming year.

Grim and depressing reading, not just for the tens of thousands of employees and the massive army of volunteers (1 in 5 of working adults who freely give up their time to help out) who are now worried sick about losing their jobs, but also the thousands of families and individuals who are dependent on the essential services they provide and whose lives will be severely impacted, directly, and indirectly by any closures and cuts.

Music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins, which through music creates a space for people to experience hope, love, and connection with others, enriching lives for people that are otherwise excluded from society, has been badly affected by the pandemic. Losing nearly £6million as fundraising fell off a cliff.

As Sandra Schembri, CEO of Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, pointed out, “with no financial aid forthcoming from government we thankfully had reserves in place, which meant we could still answer our mission which is where human potential is recognised, witnessed, and celebrated regardless of profound disability, illness or social exclusion. No music therapist of the 80 + employed was made redundant and despite the ongoing challenges, music therapy was still delivered to over 6,000 people.”

A tremendous achievement and with prudent planning, and changes to the model enabling therapists to deliver more music therapy online, client numbers are now on target to reach the pre-pandemic levels of 12,000.

And what is music to my ears, the Scottish Music Awards, the major charity fundraiser for Nordoff Robbins is again live and kicking. Being held for the very first time in Glasgow’s iconic Barrowland’s Ballroom on Saturday November 13, with live performances promised from Wet Wet Wet, the Fratellis, Nina Nesbitt, Bluebells and Brook Coombe.

Let’s hope every note counts.