'We couldn't just stop': Life at the Lancashire domestic abuse and homelessness charity during Covid-19

PAC's Zoom meetingPAC's Zoom meeting
PAC's Zoom meeting
A study by the London School of Economics has revealed that domestic abuse calls to authorities increased by 11% in lockdown, while the thousands of rough sleepers who were being offered housing during the pandemic could be evicted this month.

Working on the front line of such issues, Positive Action in the Community (PAC) is a charity which helps homeless people and supports victims of domestic abuse across East Lancashire.

Having continued their invaluable work during the pandemic, the charity’s mission statement has always been to relieve and prevent poverty, promote education, and to help anyone and everyone in need.

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“We’ve never faced something like this before, but we couldn’t stop what we do; we’ve got people relying on us,” explains Marketing and Fundraising Manager Danielle Moores. “We’ve continued offering all our services during Covid and it’s just been about making sure people who need our support can get it where possible. But coronavirus has had a big impact.

PAC at the Chorley Carnival in 2014PAC at the Chorley Carnival in 2014
PAC at the Chorley Carnival in 2014

“We’ve had to adapt and ramp up social media to do all we could to reach out to people,” adds Danielle, who has worked for the charity since December last year. “It’s especially tough because the work we do, particularly with homeless people and victims of domestic abuse, has become even more important during lockdown.”

Based in Nelson in Pendle, PAC was established in 1996 and runs a number of projects including SafeSpace, which provides supported accommodation; PDVI, which provides specialist support for adults affected by domestic abuse; Evolve, a counselling and life skills service; and The Lookout, which supports children and young people aged between four and 18 with matters regarding domestic abuse and relationships.

The crucial nature of their work, especially at a time like now in which society is grappling with the implications of a global pandemic, has also recently been formally acknowledged as they were selected as 2020 Weston Charity Award winner from a field of over 200 organisations and awarded a £6,500 grant from the Garfield Weston Foundation.

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“The pandemic has hit the most vulnerable hard [and] frontline charities are addressing increasing demands for their services with innovation, professionalism, and determination,” says Philippa Charles, Director of the Garfield Weston Foundation. “And they’re doing so despite serious threats to their finances and operating models.”

PAC’s Manager Claire Bennett says that the entire team is ‘thrilled’ to have won the prestigious award.

“Our aim is to strengthen our provision to ensure that we can provide more early intervention support and to prevent crisis, particularly for those that are vulnerable, wherever possible,” she says. “We want to ensure that we can keep making a difference to those who need us for many more years to come.”

Danielle, who is 32 and who lives in Rawtenstall, agrees. “The support that has been offered to us has come at a good time,” she says. “It has really geared us up to continue doing what we do. It’s been a stressful time so for something like the award to come along has just got us all buzzing.”

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A big impact of the pandemic has been the cancellation of entire calendars of fundraising events and the long-term implications of such funding shortfalls and diminished services coupled with enhanced demand is a growing concern. But Danielle says that the passion to help people still burns as brightly as ever.

“We’ve probably lost around £30,000 due to events being cancelled and at times like this, people need to look after themselves financially,” she says. “But ever since I started this job in December, I’ve really felt the passion everybody has.

“It’s brilliant, and the fact that we’re all pulling together to do such important work is a massive motivation as well,” Danielle adds.

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