ERA open letter for donors and supporters on our response to the Covid-19 pandemic

ERA’s Steering Board and staff are following with great concern the developments related to the spread and impact of the CoronaVirus Covid-19 pandemic. We are all doing our best to comply with the safety regulations by closing our offices and community centres, cancelling gatherings and meetings, working from home and transferring all our work online in order to protect the health and well-being of our staff, partners and community members. We are aware, however, that as the date of the end of this pandemic is nowhere near, LGBTI organisations and the communities they work for will be severely affected. Challenges will soon become apparent in terms of financial pressures, loss of human resources, inability to implement project activities and in the worst cases losing donors, supporters and partnerships. 

As lockdowns and social-distancing regulations are in place our advocacy, awareness and visibility activities will be cancelled or postponed indefinitely. Prides and other gatherings will be cancelled too. 

The most vulnerable members of our communities will be disproportionately affected by the pandemic: LGBTI+ persons who are also homeless, with disabilities, sex workers, free-lancers, living with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer and other health conditions, those on service and consultancy contracts, those going through transitions and receiving health services, those suffering from psycho-emotional stress and trauma, the elderly, refugees, those who are victims of domestic violence  and so on will be extremely vulnerable to social isolation, loss of jobs and lack of help and support from LGBTI organisations and other charities.

More worryingly many of these people will:

  • Be at higher risk of contracting Covid-19 due to other autoimmune related diseases and conditions such as HIV, cancer, diabetes etcl 
  • Face barriers to receiving health services, primarily due to discrimination and stigmatisation;
  • Suffer bigger mental health issues due to the long isolation and no-contact with relatives and other loved ones;
  • Further suffer economic hardship which will lead to unemployment and homelessnes;
  • Be at higher risk if already facing domestic violence

 

As the lockdown is entering its second week - or third in some countries of our region - we are aware of the efforts of LGBTI organisations to provide help to those who most need it  and of donors offering deadline extensions, flexibility with budget reallocations and raising funds with partners for emergency relief. We are particularly thankful to those donors who have contacted us in these days, offering their help and support and giving us the trust and recognition in the work that we do not only to advance human rights of our communities but also to act in solidarity and provide relief in such hard times: 

As such, we call on all donors and supporters active in the Western Balkans and Turkey to:

  • Contact LGBTI organisations (those who they support financially and those who they don’t) and find out what are their immediate and short term needs. We believe that before offering help, donors need to know what is it that the local organisations need to address and the issues and challenges they face; 
  • To re-design and re-schedule planned activities and provide clear directions to beneficiaries on how to seek approval for those changes; 
  • Offer flexibility in terms of budget reallocations or conversion of existing grants in order to respond to unexpected costs or build up some reserves to avoid closure and loss of human resources and programs; 
  • Ease and simplify reporting and application procedures in order for organisations to spend most of their time on providing help and services to the communities that need it; 

 

ERA calls on all its member organisations and other LGBTI+ organisations and groups based in the Western Balkans and Turkey to contact us should they need our help in:

  • reaching out to donors;
  • raising emergency funds (such as through crowd funding);
  • solidarity actions and network activities;
  • sharing resources and updates;
  • providing webinars, online trainings and other capacity building activities;
  • planning and implementing project activities online and providing remote counseling etc; 
  • reporting human rights violations of LGBTI persons to international organisations such as the UN, EU and others.
  • any other way that you might need our help; 

Although we are not in the same spaces as you, we want to offer our help, to the best of our abilities, to make sure that we overcome such hard times TOGETHER.

In solidarity,

ERA Steering Board and ERA Executive Team