Reflections from our Executive Director, one year and one global pandemic later
Danny Harvey started her role as Executive Director of Concern Worldwide UK last December. One year and a global pandemic later, here's what she's learned.
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With so much going on, it's hard to remember whether something happened last week or last month. That's why we wanted to go back through 2020 in pictures - our year, one photograph at a time.
From responding to a number of emergencies across the globe to raising over £1 million from the Ration Challenge to the continued support of our amazing fundraisers and campaigners - 2020 has been a whirlwind! So let's take a step back and look at exactly what we've all been up to this last year.
In February this year, we were on the brink of a major humanitarian crisis in east Africa as massive swarms of desert locusts threatened food supplies of 13 million people. Huge swarms of the insects devastated crops in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, putting the lives and livelihoods of millions at risk.
We responded by providing cash payments to families to buy fodder for livestock, food, seeds, agricultural tools and other basic items.
When coronavirus (Covid-19) hit, none of us knew how much our lives would be affected. What we also didn't know was how badly it was going to affect the poorer parts of the world, where the effects of the virus were thought to be much more severe. Given the impact of the disease on countries with strong health systems, Covid-19 posed an even larger threat to densely populated countries that are already struggling with the impact of conflict, climate change and malnutrition.
The focus of our response was on maintaining our current lifesaving programmes, where possible, as well as playing our part in raising awareness of the tools that can be used to fight the spread of the infection.
Some of our response included:
To top it off with one of the hottest topics of the year, we worked with communities around the world to supply almost one million people with soap and hand sanitiser to help the fight against Covid-19. But we didn’t just provide soap – we also helped people make their own. In Cité Soleil, Haiti’s largest slum, we gave unemployed people like Sterline the skills to produce their own soap - which has now become a successful business.
On August 4, a devastating explosion occurred in Beirut, leaving more than 300,000 people homeless, over 5,000 injured, and at least 200 people killed. Lebanon had already been facing an economic crisis, an influx of refugees, and a new spike in Covid-19 cases. This meant that recovery from the explosion was extremely worrying.
Concern responded by providing emergency support to people who have had their lives devastated. We focused on providing shelter to the city’s poorest communities whose homes have been destroyed or badly damaged, as well as providing psycho-social support to individuals, including counselling.
However, we were not the only ones. Groups of passionate volunteers have been on the ground since day one and they are vital in the city’s recovery. Read more about their story here.
Moreover, our team went the extra mile to respond to the people of Beirut's trauma with compassion and humanity, and to support the incredible efforts of local volunteers who were among the first to respond. Their idea? One rose to accompany each shelter kit that she and her teammates were distributing.
It’s like a hug, which you cannot physically do because of Covid-19, but at least you can express it through the flower. They are a wonderful form of non-verbal communication that touches everyone’s heart.
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This year our Street Fundraisers had a long, unforeseen break due to Covid-19 and, on their return in September, a bit of a makeover to ensure everyone's safety. You can find out more about what we're doing to ensure the heath and safety of our fundraisers and the public here.
Like all of our views out the window in lockdown, every experience of lockdown was been different – both here in the UK and across the globe. We wanted t to offer a different perspective on life in the countries we work in.
Our overseas staff and their families created images of the views from their windows in lockdown. From Syria, to Pakistan, to the Central African Republic, every view was different!
Check out the rest of the pictures here!
In June, our colleagues in Bangladesh built cutting-edge digital booths to help increase the country’s capacity to test and screen people for coronavirus (Covid-19). The free booths became a one-stop shop for screening and sample collection – after a video consultation with a local doctor, patients with Covid-19 symptoms were directed to a sample collection booth - and within 48 hours, they received results and relevant medical advice.
After four months of successful operation, in which over 8,000 samples were collected, the booth was handed over to Directorate General of Health Services, ensuring the sustainability of the project. This incredible innovation has the potential to be scaled up across the country – particularly in more rural areas where there is a shortage of doctors and medical facilities.
In 2020, hunger was already on the rise due to ongoing conflicts and the effects of climate change. Then, Covid-19 threatened to plunge already struggling families across the world into crisis. The pandemic has impacted on all our lives. But for the extreme poor, if they can’t earn a daily income, they don’t eat.
We called for international action to tackle hunger and malnutrition for the most vulnerable people.
On World Food Day, 27 MPs, 700 supporters and 14 organisations tweeted Dominic Raab using our social media toolkit and graphics to #InvestInNutrition.
Over 20,000 people also signed petitions, which we then digitally 'handed in', addressing Dominic Raab. We also gained some great traction on social media with 10,100 views of our post and 71 retweets.
Thank you to everyone that supported!
Peter, a member of staff here at Concern, did his own "hair-raising" challenge. Peter dyed his beard bright pink, (getting a few strange looks when he's out) and raised an incredible £365 for Concern.
Our incredible fundraiser Martin Pye raised an amazing £2,835 from his sponsored head shave.
Martin says he has transformed from Santa Claus to Dr Evil in a short space of time to help raise funds for the world's most vulnerable people.
And we raised an incredible £1.8 million, including Gift Aid!
Thank you to everyone that has supported us this year! We couldn't have done it without you. If you'd like to give again, please do.
We partner with a range of organisations that share our passion and the results have been fantastic.