Northern Ireland’s leading charity supporting victims of sexual violence has received a Grant from Henderson Group to help facilitate its service users during a spike in demand.

In recent weeks, Nexus NI has experienced a 20% increase in calls to their helpline, as well as its highest ever demand for its webchat feature. The £2,000 they have received as part of Henderson Group’s Community Cashback Grant in response to the COVID-19 crisis, will go towards their volunteer network’s technology to facilitate the demand.

Niall Dempsey from Nexus NI says it is simply an unprecedented demand that is exacerbated by isolation; “We take pride in the fact that our work is usually one-on-one, concentrated sessions where our clients can get the most out of their time with our volunteers and counsellors. When lockdown happened, this understandably caused some distress to those who need routine.

“We knew that other countries experiencing lockdown had shown a 300% increase in calls to domestic and sexual abuse helplines, so we needed to be prepared. We brought all our talking sessions online and over the phone, and we had to buy each volunteer a mobile phone. We’ve been able to cope with the increased demand we’ve experienced recently, and we’re so grateful to have this extra injection of funds from the Henderson Group so we can continue to do our jobs in these uncertain times.”

Also receiving funds from the Grant is Cruse Bereavement Care, which had also had to adapt its services to ensure that those bereaved during the COVID-19 pandemic are able to access support at a time when many families aren’t able to say goodbye to their loved ones. The charity has received £1,500 to continue to develop its services.

Eating Disorders Association NI, which is anticipating a very real potential surge in demand for its services post COVID, received £1,000 from the Community Cashback Grant and Parenting NI, which has been supporting parents with their “Parents through the Pandemic” sessions received £500 from the Group.

Bronagh Luke, Head of Corporate Marketing says this final week has shown that no organisation is beyond risk; “we are seeing the ways many people need various services right now, from parents who are seeing their children face difficulties, to victims of sexual and domestic violence who deserve consistency, communities who rely on hot meals being delivered by volunteers, to critical care in the skies. None of these needs stop because of the global pandemic.”

Other organisations which received boosts to their COVID-19 crisis funds included Air Ambulance NI, Belfast Homeless Services, Kilkeel Development Association, Action Mental Health and Foyle Down Syndrome Trust. Each has experienced a huge surge in demand in recent months, while simultaneously losing critical funding to carry out their services due to fundraising events and initiatives being cancelled.

Bronagh finished; “The Group’s Community Cashback Fund has helped 16 charities in Northern Ireland, giving them all a share of £20,000 to help them navigate this uncertain road. While they have done an incredible job in adjusting how they help their service users, we hope that regular fundraising and services can resume for them soon.”