UK charity The Children’s Trust, which supports children with brain injuries and their families, says demand for its services is at the highest point in its 36-year history.

At the same time, however, donations are declining rapidly as people become more cautious amidst economic uncertainty.

And it is not alone, with similar challenges being felt elsewhere in the third sector that supports neuro-rehab.

The charity estimates that hundreds of thousands of pounds in fundraising revenue has been lost in the first quarter of the year alone, through the cancellation of several key events.

It says it needs to raise £7m each year in addition to the public funding it receives, to enable it to offer various services and activities at its residential centre in Tadworth, Surrey and through its community-based work across the UK.

In response, it has launched a special fundraising appeal to remind people of the importance of donations and the difference they could make to families, both now and into the future.

Chief executive Dalton Leong says: “While we are very pleased to be able to support the NHS through helping to unblock beds and provide specialist support to children with complex needs – we currently have 17 children who are, by government definition, extremely vulnerable and have to be shielded and this does come at a cost.

“Like in the NHS, we are struggling to get the right levels of PPE for our team and we estimate we will need 2,500 masks alone every week.

“Our costs are escalating and donations are absolutely vital.

“Through fundraising, we are able to offer leisure activities, trips, levels of equipment to our children and families that make such a difference to their lives.

“We are working at the very complex end of needs and what we do is very specialised.

“The levels and frequency of services and therapies we can offer far outweighs what is available in the community.

“Although we have had to put our social activities on hold and are having to look at making savings where we can, we want to come out of this better and stronger. We will learn a lot from these challenging times.”

While the Children’s Trust remains in strong shape as an organisation – with Dalton using his corporate background, which includes 21 years in banking, to operate a lean business model – the clear drop in donations is a concerning feature for charities across the UK, no matter their size or profile.

The situation is one Dalton and his team are approaching with confidence, however.

“We have a model here where we run this organisation as a business, but value people as human beings.

“We drive through efficiency and effectiveness while never compromising on the service we deliver.

“We are reducing support costs by five per cent year-on-year, which is not easy, but it is important that we put our resources to best use.”

Dalton continues: “Only two weeks before the pandemic hit, we unveiled our five-year Hope and Ambition strategy.

“While clearly things have changed in the world since then, and we have to accept that some of what is in there will have to be reprioritised and there will be some delay with projects we are planning, we still believe in our strategy and are as committed to delivering it as ever.

“It is central to our strategy that we demonstrate agility, the ability to adapt to change and innovation.

“A recent example has been the need to bring forward our digital transformation plans, which have been introduced by default through the onset of remote working.

“We have over 200 staff currently working at home, with 400 still on site, but we have used technology to great effect to ensure our staff working remotely keep that connection with Tadworth even though they’re not here.”

While the Government recently unveiled a £750m package of support for charities as part of its coronavirus economic protection measures, Dalton believes this must go further to ensure the survival of many organisations to enable them to support people during and post COVID-19.

“I think this is a great start from the government, and I’m grateful to them for what they have done, but charities are going to play a really important part in the recovery of this country.

“Charities which are supporting extremely vulnerable children, homeless people, those in poverty, many of them will need significant resources to be able to do the work they’ll need to do.

“They could be a vital lifeline for so many people and I hope this £750m is just the start,” he says.

“The charity sector accounts for millions of pounds in income generation and employs hundreds of thousands of people and is a vital part of the economy.

“Our role can only increase as we come out of the other side of this current situation.”