Bristol grief charity The Harbour crowdfunds to bridge finance gap as demand soars

Natasha Davies CEO The Harbour 1

Bristol-based grief counselling charity The Harbour is launching an emergency appeal after Covid-19 led to a surge in demand for its services, but also put pressure on traditional funding sources.

The Harbour offers specialist grief counselling for people who are dying, their carers and those who have been bereaved due to life-threatening illness.

In 2020/21 it delivered more than 1,600 sessions to people in and around Bristol, and in the wake of the pandemic demand is at an all-time high. However, income from one of the charity’s core funding streams, trusts and foundations, has dropped by 50 percent in the past 12 months. The Harbour is now turning to the people of Bristol to request help raising vital funds.

Natasha Davies joined the charity as CEO in August 2021, and she is putting new measures in place to improve financial stability. While these get underway there is an urgent need to cover a short-term finance gap, otherwise the charity’s future is uncertain.

“We know that many people in Bristol desperately need our service, and we have taken steps to make the charity more stable financially,” Davies explains. “But right now, we’re facing serious short-term cash flow issues. We’ve launched an emergency appeal to help us keep operating and delivering counselling through this difficult time. It’s our 30-year anniversary in 2022, so it would be devastating if we had to close just when Bristol needs us most.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has been especially difficult for people facing death, dying and bereavement. People who have been bereaved have had to grieve in isolation without the usual rituals and support networks.

Many of those experiencing, or caring for someone with, life-threatening illness had to shield, reducing access to support and compounding anxiety. The postponement of screening and hospital appointments has also led to delayed treatment for life-threatening illness, with fatal consequences for some. All of this has an immense impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The Harbour’s Chairperson, Philippa Bayley, says if the current funding shortfall can be addressed the charity is set to become more sustainable under Davies’ leadership.

“As a board of trustees, we appointed Natasha because she brought fresh ideas to the table and understood the need for rigour and tenacity when it comes to fundraising. However, we’re in an unprecedented financial situation due to the pandemic.

“The Harbour is the only place in Bristol offering specialist extended counselling for people dealing with death, dying and bereavement. It’s our sincere hope that people and businesses will donate so the charity can overcome the current challenges and continue to serve the city.”

The Harbour’s crowdfunding target is £10,000, more information is available at https://theharbour.enthuse.com/cf/help-keep-the-harbour-afloat

The Harbour was established in 1992. It originally helped young people affected by HIV/AIDS, when AIDS was a terminal illness, supporting them as they faced death, dying and bereavement. Today, the charity helps people in Bristol who are experiencing death, dying or bereavement due to any life-threatening illness.