A CUMBRIAN charity whose fundraising has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic has launched a new way for people to donate cash to support its vital work.

People can now donate to Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service (CADAS) through an easy-to-use text giving system.

It allows people to choose to give £5, £10 or £20 to CADAS, which works with children and adults, with people in the midst of addiction and dependency.

The charity also works with those in recovery and with those individuals’ parents, carers and other family members.

CADAS is also heavily involved in preventative work, by running education and awareness sessions in schools and by teaching professionals, such as teachers, social workers and the police, to increase their knowledge of substances that can become addictive and harmful to health.

Chief executive Leigh Williams explained that CADAS works with on average about 500 people every year on a one-to-one basis, and with a further 2,000 to 3,000 people through events and workshops.

The charity needs around £8,000 per week to keep operating, but like all charities has been hard-hit financially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Donations have fallen significantly in the past six months,” said Ms Williams.

“Since the start of the pandemic we have not been able to do many of our traditional fund-raising activities such as supermarket bag packs and money raised through collecting tins in retail outlets has fallen because fewer people have been out and about shopping.

“Our fund-raising is down by about £30,000 – the cost of a CADAS case worker.”

She said the new text giving system was a new and innovative way for people who appreciated the work of CADAS to make a real difference to the charity.

“They can give while they are sitting on their sofas and using their mobile phones. It is just so easy for people to donate without any fuss,” said Ms Williams.

She added that a £10 donation covered the cost of a call to the charity’s hotline, 0800 254 5658.

Every £50 raised covered the cost of a potentially life changing or lifesaving 1:1 support session.

The call for people to donate comes as experts from the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) have warned the number of people drinking at high-risk levels has almost doubled since just before the UK's lockdown.

An estimated 8.4 million people drank "high-risk" amounts of alcohol in June, compared to 4.8 million people four months earlier, said the RCP.

“We see that first hand,” said Ms Williams. “The majority of our callers are ringing about problems with alcohol. We have seen an increase of 25 per cent since the start of lockdown in people getting in touch and asking for support.

“People are drinking more because they are bored or, because of furlough or redundancy, they are anxious about their financial security.

“If people are able to donate to CADAS we can help even more people who are facing real difficulties in their lives.”