Charities and community groups responding to the threat of COVID-19 across the county have received a financial boost from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund this week.
Almost £62,000 from the Fund, established by Cumbria Community Foundation, has been split between 17 local charitable and voluntary groups. The money will help those who have been homeless, provide food for young people living in temporary accommodation, assist the volunteer community effort in various locations and provide online support for those with learning disabilities.
The coordination of volunteers to support vulnerable people who are self-isolating is imperative during this time. Cockermouth Emergency Response Group (CERG) received £4,890 to facilitate the community volunteer response and across the town.
CERG was created in response to the frequent flooding of the town and is a partnership between Churches Together, Rotary and Cockermouth Flood Action Group. More than 160 new volunteers have signed up in the last couple of weeks, providing dog walking services, foodbank and pharmacy deliveries and shopping for those in isolation.
Volunteers are also reaching out to isolated older and vulnerable people by telephone and social media to support positive mental health. Initiatives like its newsletter, linking residents with appropriate support is reducing the feeling of isolation and vulnerability.
There are a number of initiatives under way around the county to look after friends and neighbours. A new support group has launched in Cleator Moor to assist residents in the town that have to self-isolate due to the pandemic.
Home to Work is part of the local COVID-19 response group and received £5,000 to manage the helpline and requests for support, which are then directed to a team of volunteers. The group is also delivering prescriptions on behalf of the local chemist as well as supporting the local foodbank.
Ulverston Mind is reaching out to isolated people to encourage positive mental health with the support of £1,362 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund.
The charity anticipates that the ongoing crisis will result in a deterioration of mental health for a significant number of people, some of whom will have experienced a drastic loss of income with associated anxiety and stress. The funding will provide online and telephone counselling through its one-to-one ‘listening ear’ support service to people, who until the pandemic, were attending a weekly peer group.
Essential advice and emotional support are being offered remotely by Eden Carers with the support of £1,684. The charity, which supports 800 carers across the Eden district, is supporting the NHS via the hospital discharge service and needed additional IT equipment to support this.
Dani Leslie, Chief Officer, said: “As COVID-19 is present in acute hospitals, it is very important that those patients who have health issues that are not related to the virus and who are not virus positive leave the hospital as soon as possible.”
The charity will be contacting discharged patients, phoning them once a day for five days to ensure they are supported, and any welfare needs are addressed.
Thanks to £10,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund, People First Independent Advocacy (PFIA), based in Carlisle, will continue to support people with learning difficulties through virtual self-advocacy groups.
People will stay connected and supported by trained facilitators and peers via online resources and telephone. The aim of this work is to minimise isolation, protect people with learning difficulties and to ensure their continued health, safety and wellbeing.
David Blacklock, Chief Executive, said: “This is a challenging time for all of us, for those with a learning disability and/or autism, it can be especially difficult to understand what’s happening around us and to stay well. This funding will allow us to provide vital support to some of Cumbria’s most vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for making this work possible.”
The volunteer-led ‘Waste into Wellbeing’ project ensures that waste from local shops and supermarkets is turned into nourishing meals or is distributed to areas of greatest need. Run by South Lakes Action on Climate Change Towards Transition (SLACC), it works in partnership with the Kendal People’s Café and Food Hub on Stricklandgate.
The project received £4,000 to support the recruitment and training of additional volunteers and coordinating food donations. Last week, 120 food bags were distributed through three locations in Kendal and the charity states that demand outstrips supply.
Trustee of South Lakes Action on Climate Change, which is the parent charity of Kendal People’s Café and Waste into Wellbeing, Chris Rowley, said: “This is wonderful news for us as it will enable us to cope with the enormous demand for food coming from a variety of sources. We would like to thank the generosity and support of the many among the local food retailers and from our volunteers, who are currently working hard to expand our operation.”
Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “We can only support these groups thanks to the generosity of our donors.
“Funding projects that are adapting and supporting the most vulnerable in our communities is exactly why we set the Fund up. Over the coming weeks, we will continue to support groups who are responding to the needs in their communities. Looking ahead, our community groups will need support to get back on their feet after the outbreak eases so they can keep up their vital work and I encourage anyone that can donate to the Fund, to please do so.”
For more information about the Fund and how to donate, visit www.cumbriafoundation.org
For groups wanting to enquire about funding, they should visit: https://www.cumbriafoundation.org/fund/covid19-response-fund or contact the grants team on [email protected]