The St John Ambulance service has issued an urgent public appeal after losing income due to social distancing rules.
The charity service said it needs to raise £100,000 to support their continued commitment to help combat the Covid-19 crisis.
Some 1,860 of the charity’s volunteers are currently on the front line easing pressure on the health service.
In the last week, some 79 of its ambulances have been deployed across Northern Ireland, with an average of 11 vehicles dispatched every day to supplement the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.
However the charity has seen a major drop in income following the cancellation of public events where it provides first aid and ambulance cover, as well as not being able to run first aid training courses due to social distancing regulations.
It has warned the loss of revenue streams is likely to last into 2021 placing “unprecedented financial pressures on the organisation”.
We still continue to work to our full capacity, but we don’t know how long this will last.Christopher Murdock
Christopher Murdock, chairman of St John Ambulance (NI) said that without additional funding it will be unable to continue providing the current level of service.
“In the past month our mission has consisted solely on helping the various NHS Health Trusts get hospitals, wards and beds emptied of those patients who can be discharged and taken home and transferring new patients to hospitals/clinics,” he said.
“The surge in demand for our services is putting us under incredible pressure.
“We still continue to work to our full capacity, but we don’t know how long this will last.
“Without the critical funding that we need at this time we will not be able to keep running at this level of demand. We require funds for more personal protection equipment (PPE), maintenance of our vehicles, premises and equipment, and to provide training to our volunteers.”
Adrian Donaldson, chief executive of St John Ambulance (NI), added: “Just like their NHS colleagues our volunteers are being pushed to the limit mentally and physically to deal with the high demand for emergency care at this extraordinary time.
“We couldn’t be prouder of them as they dedicate their time and compassion to help others in a life-threatening situation.
“By donating and supporting our fundraising you can make a real difference in helping us fulfil our vital role during this crisis.”
To make a donation to St John Ambulance (NI) and help save lives visit www.sjani.org