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Letter to Arise's supporters from Lord Alton of Liverpool on COVID-19 fund

COVID-19 fund established in response to frontline emergency.

Dear Friends of Arise,

You’ll have received a lot of emails from charities asking for money. In a crisis, this can feel like opportunism. But truly many nonprofits are facing existential choices. For Arise, this is not an effort to meet overheads and salaries, but rather to meet the needs of our network, embedded in some of the world's most vulnerable communities. So, at the very outset, I want to emphasise that if you feel able to respond to what follows, you should know that every penny raised by this appeal will go directly to those on the frontline. We are receiving countless requests from our network. The situation is desperate. Many have been banned from their usual frontline anti-slavery work, for good reasons. This has left untold thousands without critical medical and pastoral support. For example, we are hearing from the slums around Delhi and Bangalore, the suburbs of Manila and among some of the Roma communities in Albania where the virus poses profound risks. These are people often living below the poverty line in cramped and unsanitary conditions. The instruction to “wash hands” or “self-isolate” simply does not apply in places where there is no running water and four families to a room. But our networks are adapting, finding new ways of serving their communities in this crisis. They are establishing food banks, discovering safe ways of delivering essentials to at-risk communities, providing health assessments, conducting critical awareness raising work about the virus, among so many other vital interventions. Arise’s network refuses to abandon the communities it serves. And so we are asking you to help us assist these communities. They need help to source and buy supplies, and to do so safely. Arise has established an emergency fund and structure to get essentials to the people who need it. The fund will provide micro grants to at-risk communities, to enable them to get what they need to protect themselves. Through our trusted network we can reach many thousands of those most vulnerable. This is anti-slavery work. Communities at-risk of slavery and human trafficking are being made more vulnerable by this crisis. The criminals profiting from these crimes will be using the pandemic to their advantage. Arise’s India Coordinator, Sr Arpan Carvalho put it starkly: “The help given to the poorest of the poor is, in some places, being withdrawn for their own safety. The devastation the coronavirus could cause in such circumstances doesn’t bear thinking about, and the desperation in those communities will lead to more people being exploited. We are finding new ways of helping them”. Most of the people reading this email will have been made vulnerable by this virus to some extent. But very few reading this will face heightened risk of trafficking or exploitation as a result of the pandemic. This is a reality for so many in the world. In this time of distress for so many, let us resolve never to forget those whose situation is worse.

Thank you for your help.

David Alton

Professor the Lord Alton of Liverpool

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