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Working together to battle the COVID-19 outbreak

Communities are pulling together to support vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic thanks to funding from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund.

This week, a further £142,293 was awarded from the Fund, set up by Cumbria Community Foundation, to projects helping families on low incomes, homeless people, isolated older people and many more get through the coronavirus crisis.

The impact of COVID-19 on low-income households is likely to be more severe in the short term and recovery for these families will take much longer. The closure of schools places an additional strain on families who rely on the financial and social support that schools provide and who also need to work, while social distancing and lockdown make it difficult to maintain routine budgetary practices for managing on a low income.

Barrow is one of the most deprived areas in the county, one in three children are living in poverty. To help meet the additional needs and concerns of local people, the community has come together to create a coordinated community response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Barrow Borough Community Resilience Forum works closely with the Local Resilience Forum and includes representatives from six charities: The Well, Love Barrow Families, Women’s Community Matters, Drop Zone Youth Project, Age UK Barrow and self-harm awareness charity SAFA. It received £74,580 to ensure that all parts of the borough have access to support, advice, and practical help. In addition, organisations with expertise in key areas such as older people, mental health, families and addiction issues will be called on to work together to support those most at risk.

Love Barrow families is working with Drop Zone Youth Projects and The Well to deliver a meal each week to families who are most in need. Trina Robson, Director at Love Barrow Families, said: “This crisis has taken away the place where our families came together, and we are doing our best to continue to reach out to everyone and to put people in touch with each other. We know that it is relationships and love that count, and we are finding as many ways as possible to provide this. One way is through our volunteers providing a home cooked meal for all the families who need it every week and an activity or challenge that families can complete. We are using various means of having fun and staying in touch remotely and the funding will help us to do this. For our families this is a lifeline. It means that they can access the right support, be that psychological or practical, from the right place at the right moment to stay well and keep going through this difficult time.”

Rebecca Robson, Senior Officer at Women’s Community Matters, which has joined them in delivering meals and activities to the families they work with, said: “I would like to say a very big thank you to everyone who has donated to Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund. We now have the privilege of being able to share the generosity of all those who donated with those who need it most.  I have seen and heard the comments from some of the families who will benefit, and I can assure you that it means more than we can ever measure.”

Drugs and alcohol rehabilitation support service, The Well, has adapted to offer online support seven days a week. Support includes virtual fitness classes and online meetings to help with Universal Credit, food bank vouchers, meals and support with addiction. Some clients live in rural areas such as Millom and the charity also supports the Egerton Court community now the Hub is closed. Ged Pickersgill, Senior Development Manager at The Well said: “In these unprecedented times, statutory services and the local third sector have come together to assist some of Barrow-in-Furness and South Lakelands most vulnerable individuals. The Well Communities are proud to be a small cog in a much bigger wheel.”

Ellen Clements, Senior Grants and Donor Services Officer at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “There is an incredible network of organisations that are passionate about their work. The Barrow Borough Community Resilience Forum is a great example of how people in Cumbria are proactively responding to the coronavirus outbreak. The effects of shielding and self-isolation can have a detrimental effect on both physical and mental wellbeing. By working collaboratively across all sectors to support residents with their needs during this time, whether it be with food, prescription collection, coping both physically and mentally, the project aims to reduce the impact that the current crisis is having on residents to bring about the best possible outcome.

“This project will offer community support and resilience services that have grown from community groups since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown. We can only support these groups thanks to the generosity of our donors. We continue to ask everyone who can give to the Fund, to please do so.”

Local family donates £300,000 to help charities battle against COVID crisis

A family from Cumbria has given charitable groups a lifeline as they battle to support people amidst the coronavirus lockdown.

Fourteen charities from Cumbria and North Lancashire have received a share of £310,000 in funding to help them respond to the challenge of coronavirus.

The donation was made to Cumbria Community Foundation who then distributed the money to groups providing support such as food delivery, telephone befriending, counselling and benefits advice. The money will also help charities to co-ordinate their response and benefit community groups that are at risk of collapse because of the crisis.

As the pandemic continues, so do the needs. People whose livelihoods are falling away are being forced to turn to food banks and to apply for Universal Credit for the first time. Citizen’s Advice are already seeing a significant increase in people seeking their help for multiple issues and received funding to help them deal with the unprecedented demand.

Andy Auld, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Carlisle and Eden, said: “People contacting us often need to address multiple issues at once – getting food vouchers, applying for benefits, and preventing eviction and reorganising debt repayments longer term.

“The crisis is disproportionately affecting those on lower incomes – people working in service industries, those on zero-hour contracts are among the first to be dismissed or furloughed. Many working people are already on low incomes and are struggling with any further reduction. We are particularly concerned about the links between the lockdown, poverty and mental health problems – these can lead on to difficulties with debt, housing etc.  Part of our work is to try to help break this cycle.”

Many charities are facing a massive cut in income but feel obliged to stay operational and to carry on supporting vulnerable people far beyond when a pure business decision would mandate closure.

“At Age UK South Lakeland, we have taken the decision to continue to deliver as full a service as possible and have remained open throughout this difficult period. This decision was not easy because all our shops have had to close at this time, significantly reducing our income. We should be under no illusion that the level of help required will not end with any relaxation of the current restrictions and many will require support well beyond the lifting of social isolation measures. However, we are here and ready to provide support and deliver the services needed. The funding received will help us to do that,” said Chief Officer, Hugh Tomlinson.

Other groups benefiting from funding include Hospice at Home Carlisle & North Lakeland and Hospice at Home West Cumbria, and St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston and St John’s Hospice in Lancaster to care for patients at the end stages of life in their homes and provide help and support to their families.

The anonymous family said: “We’re grateful to Cumbria Community Foundation for facilitating this, based on their knowledge and experience. We appreciate their help and expertise in enabling us to provide much-needed funds to ensure people across Cumbria and North Lancashire continue to receive the support they so desperately need.”

Annalee Holliday, Grants & Donor Services Officer at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “The pandemic is making life more difficult than ever before for vulnerable people and the charities they rely upon are struggling to survive and deliver the services that are a lifeline across the region.

“Many of the charities, community and voluntary groups we support currently have no fundraising capability. They do brilliant work helping our most vulnerable people and communities but are unable to ask the wider world for donations, so we provide the easy way to donate to them, with all the due diligence and local knowledge needed.

“We are extremely grateful to the family for their generosity and supporting local charities that are providing a lifeline for those in desperate need during the pandemic.”

Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund awards £67,680 to support the community.

Charities battling the coronavirus pandemic have received a welcome boost this week.

Another £67,680 was awarded from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to support projects tackling social isolation, offering advice and guidance and those affected by bereavement.

Over the past month, £577,450 has been awarded from various funds within the Foundation, benefiting 80 local community and voluntary organisations, including the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund, which was set up to support the increased demand that Cumbrian charities and voluntary groups are facing in the wake of COVID-19 and its related closures.

Cruse Cumbria is offering a telephone counselling service to ensure bereaved people have somewhere to turn. It will provide bereavement support to an estimated 200 extra people who are affected by a death whether as a direct result of COVID-19 or any other death where the crisis affects bereavement. It received £4,860 for additional training for its existing and new volunteers so they can provide specialist bereavement support in these unprecedented times.

Amy Green, Operations Manager, Cruse Cumbria, said: “We are anticipating a huge increase in demand due to COVID-19 and this funding will support us in meeting that demand. Our volunteers provide much needed specialist bereavement support, which is important now more than ever. We are committed to making sure all bereaved people across Cumbria can continue to access support.”

Ford Park Community Group is working with Ulverston Self-Isolation Group to help the most vulnerable members of its community. The commercial kitchen and premises will be used to prepare ‘ready meals’ and hot food. The group received £5,000 to support those who are self-isolating and those who have lost an immediate family member and are struggling to cope and care for themselves during initial period of grief and isolation. At least twice a week, a group of volunteers in Ulverston will prepare and distribute the food to residents who are most vulnerable at this time. Jill Salmon, CEO at Ford Park Community Group, said: “Ulverston Self-Isolation group and its volunteers are leading efforts to support the community during this very challenging period. Using our kitchen and premises, we will work with Ulverston Self-Isolation Group to prepare and deliver meals for those most in need of support.”

Alston Moor Emergency Response Group have set up a local support service run by volunteers for residents in the rural area of Alston Moor. The group received £4,400 to offer services such as prescription delivery to patients who are in the ‘high risk group’. The group have also set up a local helpline, phone buddying, a food delivery service working with local businesses and a newsletter to keep local residents informed.

Claire Driver, lead coordinator, said: “We are hugely grateful for this money which allows us to continue to reach those most in need at this challenging time. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit and neighbourliness shown by our volunteers and the wider community, and Alston Moor continues to be a shining example of what can be achieved when we all pull together.”

Many people will not be able to attend their usual self-help meetings due to the current restrictions. Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service (Cadas) received £11,000 to set up a new helpline and campaign to help people address a broader range of addictive and dependent behaviours, including gambling, social media use as well as substances.

Providing advice and information when local residents are needing it most is Citizens Advice Allerdale. It received £10,000 to provide advice, information and support via telephone and email. It is offering support to people needing advice on benefits and housing, household debts, employment advice, financial support for the self-employed and small businesses, as well as supporting people in a domestic abuse situation and advice on relationship breakdowns.

Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “The people of Cumbria have responded amazingly to the COVID-19 outbreak. We’ve had some of the highest recorded cases in the UK and it has been a worrying time for everyone.

“Tens of thousands of older people and people with medical conditions have been locked down in their homes for weeks. Funding projects that are adapting and supporting the most vulnerable in our communities is exactly why we set the Fund up. We can only support these groups thanks to the generosity of our donors. As the demand for our grants grow, we will soon expend the funds we hold. That is why we have decided to raise the fundraising target to £3 million and ask everyone who can give to the Fund, to please do so.”

Fundraising target to help the helpers raised to £3 Million

Cumbria Community Foundation launched the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund four weeks ago with an initial target of £1million to support community and voluntary organisations that are helping to feed and protect elderly and vulnerable Cumbrians as part of the county’s co-ordinated response to the pandemic.

In that time, more than half a million pounds has already been given out by the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund and the charity is now raising the target to £3 million.

The Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund has helped to provide much needed food and medicine to isolated old and vulnerable people sheltering in their homes. It has helped families in poverty and those in temporary accommodation, women affected by domestic violence, and supported isolated and vulnerable young people. Grants have also been given to help charities that have seen a rise in demand for their services, such as mental health provision and carers organisations.

Throughout the county, thousands of volunteers have come forward to create new self-help groups, alongside support from many of the existing 6,000 charitable groups across Cumbria that are stepping up and working to reduce pressures on the NHS. Teamwork among public, private and charitable organisations means Cumbria now has a call centre and a network of hubs coordinating volunteers and delivery of food and medicines.

Andy Beeforth OBE, Chief Executive of the Community Foundation said: “Cumbria has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic with some of the highest recorded incidences of the disease. Our doctors, nurses, health workers and all key workers have all been magnificent and we thank them.

“As we enter a further three weeks of lockdown, many people are unable to work. Families are applying for Universal Credit for the first time and many businesses have been without income for weeks.

“The need is great and growing. Our charities are at the forefront of supporting people at this desperate time. The money we’ve given out so far has kept people safe but what we have raised will soon run out. Some of our most important charities are themselves facing financial problems and without support from the COVID-19 Fund they may have to close. “

Assistant Chief Constable, Andy Slattery, who chairs the Cumbria Covid-19 Strategic Coordination group said: “I have seen the way local charities and community volunteers have worked together in support of our most vulnerable people.  I understand the significant impact the virus is having.

“It is vital that we have funds available for local charities and voluntary organisations to support people in urgent need.”

Colin Cox, Director Public Health, said: “Supporting older and vulnerable people to self-isolate is particularly challenging for community groups, as the situation is exacerbated by the remote, rural nature of our county.  In addition, there are proportionally more people in the vulnerable self-isolating category as the county is characterised by a ‘super-ageing’ population, particularly in the more rural areas.

“The need for practical support will last for at least three months and may well be extended beyond that, such as the delivery of food and essential items to those who are self-isolating. There is also a need for other types of support, such as befriending, emotional wellbeing, mental health, bereavement and counselling, which will increase and be required over a longer period.”

One in eight households in Cumbria have an income of less than £10,000 a year. People locked in poverty are more likely to be in poor health, disabled, and to be caring for others. In addition, people stuck in poverty are more likely to experience anxiety, depression and other mental health difficulties.

The implications of COVID-19 also mean that many more people struggling to keep their heads above water could be swept into poverty as a result.  The virus has forced many people to look for help in areas that they may have thought they’d never need, and local Citizens Advice have seen an unprecedented demand for their services.

Andy Auld, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Carlisle and Eden, said: “Since the Coronavirus crisis started, we have seen an increase locally in the number of people seeking our help – particularly on the issues of unemployment, paying bills, furloughing and access to food. Residents contacting us often need to address multiple issues at once – getting food vouchers, applying for benefits, and preventing eviction and reorganising debt repayments longer term.

“The crisis is disproportionately affecting those on lower incomes – people working in service industries, those on zero-hour contracts are amongst the first to be dismissed or furloughed. Many working people are already on low incomes and will struggle with any further reduction. This will likely result in increased poverty and further ill-health. We are particularly concerned about the links between the lockdown, poverty and mental health problems – these can lead on to difficulties with debt, housing etc.  Part of our work is to try to help break this cycle.”

Older people are particularly vulnerable to Coronavirus. Along with having isolation and mobility challenges, older people often have a weaker immune system and are also more likely to have conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or kidney disease, which weaken their body’s ability to fight infectious diseases.

In South Lakeland, over a quarter of residents are aged over 65. The Fund has helped organisations such as Age UK South Lakeland to offer a variety of emergency services including telephone shopping and befriending, and a prescription collection and hospital transport service. Hugh Tomlinson, Chief Officer, said: With the extension of the current restrictions, we expect the need for services such as the befriending scheme to continue to rise. We should be under no illusion that the level of help required by these vulnerable groups will not end with any relaxation of the current restrictions and many will require support well beyond the lifting of social isolation measures.

At Age UK South Lakeland, we have taken the decision to continue to deliver as full a service as possible and have remained open throughout this difficult period. This decision was not easy because all our shops have had to close at this time, significantly reducing our income. However, we are here and ready to provide that support and deliver the services needed. The funding received from Cumbria Community Foundation will help us to do that.”

Much more needs to be done to support families with children in this time of national crisis. As unemployment rises over the coming weeks and months, many more families will require welfare support to get by. 12,000 children across Cumbria live in poverty and in Barrow, it’s one in three. Free school meals make a huge difference to those on low income, but we know there have been issues with children receiving the vouchers provided to replace the meals they would receive at school. Many more families will need to turn to food banks, which have also been hit by shortages and many are running low on essentials.

Love Barrow Families CIC works with families who live in the most deprived wards in the town. Many have relationship difficulties and mental health issues, which are exacerbated by the virus. The charity received £4,000 to enable staff and volunteers to work remotely and to cover costs associated with the food and prescription delivery service.

Trina Robson, Director at Love Barrow Families, said: “This crisis has taken away the place where our families came together, and we are doing our best to continue to reach out to everyone and to put people in touch with each other. We know that it is relationships and love that count, and we are finding as many ways as possible to provide this. One way is through our volunteers providing a home cooked meal for all the families who need it every week and an activity or challenge that families can complete. We are using various means of having fun and staying in touch remotely and the funding will help us to do this. For our families this is a lifeline. It means that they can access the right support, be that psychological or practical, from the right place at the right moment to stay well and keep going through this difficult time.”

For all these reasons, Cumbria Community Foundation is asking those people who can afford to donate, to please do so and help them meet the new fundraising target of £3 million for the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund. To make a donation and support local groups, please click here.

Businessman donates £100K to Cumbria COVID-19 Fund

A fund set up to support Cumbria’s charities and community groups during the COVID-19 crisis has received a welcome boost.

Since Cumbria Community Foundation launched the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund three weeks ago, the Fund has amassed more than £900,000 in donations.

A former Cumbrian, who now lives in Cornwall, has donated £100,000 to the Fund to help the Foundation provide additional funding to local groups supporting families.

Mike Wombwell grew up near Maryport, attending Keswick Grammar School before completing a Business Studies degree, sponsored by the British Steel Corporation, at Sheffield Polytechnic. He then embarked on a career in business, living and working initially in the UK, then spending time in the Middle East, Germany, Vietnam, California and for the last 20 years, running his own business in Dubai. He now lives in Cornwall with his wife and young son.

“Now my parents have died, I very rarely get up to Cumbria, but even when living overseas, I liked hearing the snippets of news about the region and watching TV programmes about Cumbria. I often get a twinge of homesickness and have many fond memories of the countryside and people of my early years,” Mike said.

“I wanted to ‘do my bit’ to help to reduce the risks to some of the most vulnerable in society. I am making donations in Cumbria and Cornwall with a focus on alleviating difficulties faced by families with children in being able to afford the basics. I find myself in a privileged position where I can help, so I will. In fact, I think I should, and I am very happy to do so.”

Andy Beeforth, CEO at Cumbria Community Foundation said: “In three weeks, over 90 applications from charities and community groups have been received, requesting almost £750,000 between them. The need is great, and we can only support these groups thanks to our generous donors.

“Hundreds of people have donated so far and what this crisis has done is bring together a community. We continue to be inspired, but not surprised, by the generosity of people who care about Cumbria. The money that’s been donated is helping groups make an enormous difference in their communities, but we know that need is still growing and is likely to do so for some time.”

Charities helping Cumbrians overcome Coronavirus crisis

 Following the launch of the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund last month, almost a quarter of a million pounds has already been awarded to support local community and voluntary organisations meeting the new needs and challenges created by the virus.

At a time when they have never been more needed, many charities and voluntary organisations are stepping up and responding in the crisis. More than 50 grants have been distributed and dozens more will be provided in the coming weeks.

Another £79,000 was distributed from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund, set up by Cumbria Community Foundation this week, which is designed to help groups respond and sustain crucial activities as the pandemic continues.

The fund is helping organisations like Safety Net, which works with children, young people and families who have experience of rape, exploitation, sexual and domestic abuse. Thanks to £9,758 from the Fund, staff and volunteers can access an online training programme so they can continue to offer vital emotional support and therapy to clients digitally or over the phone.

Jo Birch, acting chief officer at Safety Net, said: “In these uncertain times we can reassure survivors that Safety Net is here to support them. The hidden epidemic of domestic and sexual abuse continues and grows during this COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will allow our vital work to continue and expand, ensuring a crucial lifeline for those who need support in Cumbria.”

In rural Cumbria, many households face long journeys to buy food and this is more difficult if families are self-isolating. Volunteers from Gisland Village Hall near Brampton are supporting the local response group, which formed to help those who are isolated during the pandemic. There are no shops in the village or bus route and many residents are older or work long hours on nearby farms.

£500 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund will help volunteers to provide food supplies in addition to local information via a twice-monthly newsletter. Janet Gordon, Chair, said: “The community of Gilsland is spread across the three parishes of Upper Denton, Waterhead and Thirlwall with the village hall at its heart. Some of the outlying properties are in very rural areas having no mobile phone signal and limited broadband, making communication a challenge. The funding we received will help support the community in many ways and the production of a newsletter is a vital asset especially for the elderly and vulnerable self-isolating in their own homes for up to three months.”

The number of people being forced to stay at home during the lockdown has raised fears that there will be more cases of domestic abuse, and that some victims will be either be too afraid to ask for help, or be uncertain if help is available at this time. West Cumbria Domestic Violence received £10,128 to offer a confidential telephone helpline with qualified therapist and trainers for those suffering from abuse. Project Manager, Victoria Pike, said: “While many victims and survivors of domestic abuse will rely on their family and friends, they also need a strong provision of formal services, from specialist refuges to counsellors.

“With the current lockdown measures that are in place, victims may not have accessible support from family, friends and other services they are used to; therefore, it is vital that there is a place for them to turn to. Early intervention or lack of early support can enable or prohibit an individual’s ability to break away from abuse. If the person does decide to talk, whether they have left an abusive relationship or just contemplating it, it is important to have someone to talk too, a friendly ear at the end of the phone to discuss the various options and help them make informed choices to keep themselves and their children as safe as possible. The grant is going to go a long way in  providing immediate support to victims of domestic abuse in West Cumbria.”

Love Barrow Families CIC works with families who suffer from physical and mental health issues, relationship difficulties, drug and alcohol abuse, anti-social behaviour, domestic violence, unemployment and homelessness, all of which can affect emotional and mental wellbeing and is exacerbated by the virus. The charity received £4,000 to enable staff and volunteers to work remotely and to cover costs associated with the food and prescription delivery service.

Farmers in many parts of the county were already struggling after the wettest February since records began and are now facing the challenges of Coronavirus. Many farms run tourism enterprises that have been immediately impacted by restrictions but are also experiencing difficulties in sourcing supplies, disruption to markets, falling milk prices and concerns about what might happen to their livestock and businesses if they themselves become ill.

The Farmer Network has received £9,500 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to provide information, support and practical help to farmers who may be experiencing hardship and to develop a Farm Labour Emergency Support Scheme (FLESS). Adam Day, The Farmer Network’s Managing Director said: “Farmers are isolated, particularly during lambing, which is good for reducing the spread of COVID-19 but makes them more at risk of stress and remote from the support available in more urban areas. From the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, farmers have raised concerns as to what might happen should keyworkers or family members be unable to work because of illness. We want to help find workers, both volunteers and contractors, and match these with farmers who need emergency labour who are not able to find help through their usual friends and family networks.”

Chairman of the Farmer Network, Randal Raine, who farms at Outhwaite, said: “The Farm Labour Emergency Support Scheme will bring much needed reassurance to farmers like me, that in a worse- case scenario, the farm can remain operational and the welfare of animals maintained.”

For more information about the Fund and how to donate, click here.

For groups wanting to enquire about funding, click here.

Charities receive further funding from COVID-19 Response Fund

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 click here.

Funding to improve mental health & wellbeing in response to COVID-19

A fund established to help communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic has received a welcome boost.

The North East and North Cumbria Mental Health Integrated Care Systems (ICS) will provide additional funding to the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund, which will support people struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.

The NE&NC Suicide Prevention Network has allocated the funding to support organisations and community groups who are looking after those who are isolated and vulnerable within our communities.

Katherine McGleenan, suicide prevention lead across north east and north Cumbria, said: “As a mental health nurse, I’m aware of the impact struggling with mental health and wellbeing can have for people and how getting the right support can make a real difference. We want to do everything possible to get support and information to help people manage their mental health and wellbeing during this incredibly difficult and stressful time. This is especially important for people in our communities who are more vulnerable and already are struggling. People who are social isolating are perhaps feeling at the moment there is less support available so I hope this funding will make a real difference.”

Cumbria Community Foundation launched the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund with £100,000 of its own funds. That total now stands at over £800,000 thanks to generous donations from local companies and charitable trusts.

Andy Beeforth, CEO at Cumbria Community Foundation said: “Our communities will be hit hard by the impact of Coronavirus and they will need significant support over the next few months. Thanks to this additional donation, voluntary organisations will be able to increase their support to local people who will need help for many months to come.”

For more information about the Fund and how to donate, visit www.cumbriafoundation.org

Community Foundation awards first grants from COVID-19 Response Fund

Communities responding to the threat of COVID-19 across the county have received a financial boost from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund this week.

The first £82,000 in grants from the Fund, established by Cumbria Community Foundation, focus on extending and expanding the capacity of charitable organisations that are providing support to those most vulnerable, specifically the elderly and those who have self-isolated.

Cumbria has already seen widespread community and voluntary sector support for the response to COVID-19, with the creation of many self-help groups, alongside a commitment from existing community emergency planning groups, and formal voluntary sector organisations who are working with the County Council and partners including District Councils and NHS.

The money awarded will support vulnerable and older people in their homes, providing food and medicines, provide equipment to support groups remotely working, such as Citizens Advice and carers organisations, offer online youth services for disadvantaged young people, and create a dedicated phone line to provide counselling to people who might be worried, isolated or anxious about the pandemic and need someone to talk to.

Birchall Trust received £2,168 to put its staff and volunteers through an online training programme so they can continue to offer counselling and therapy to survivors of rape and sexual abuse in South Cumbria and North Lancashire.

Chief Executive Officer, Karen Greenhow, said: “The training will ensure that all our counsellors and support staff are operating safely. They will learn and consider new ways of providing counselling over the phone and online and how they need to adapt their practice accordingly. The training will enable our staff to continue to provide the best quality service that we can, providing a vital lifeline to our clients during these challenging times.”

In most rural communities across Cumbria, the population is older than the national average, putting a higher percentage of the community at risk of COVID-19. This is the case across the Northern Fells region. The Northern Fells Group received £2,729 to expand its Lend a Hand service in response to the huge number of people self-isolating. The charity has delivered leaflets, recruited an additional 70 volunteers to pick up shopping and prescriptions, provide dog walking and help with its telephone befriending scheme.

The Lend a Hand service is already funded by Cumbria Community Foundation and provides practical support to residents such as the handy man service, social and domestic care and a medical loan scheme.

Northern Fells Group Fundraising Co-ordinator, Libby Graham said: “The response has been overwhelming and we are inundated with requests for help – particularly from the most vulnerable older residents in our catchment area. We work in a 200 square mile area with many of our users living in isolated households. Distances travelled to deliver help can be many miles.” Our catchment area incorporates seven parishes – Ireby & Uldale, Boltons, Westward & Rosley, Sebergham & Welton, Caldbeck, Castle Sowerby and Mungrisdale.”

Age UK West Cumbria received £10,000 to support its COVID-19 Community Helpdesk and Support service. A response team will support queries and requests for help via a dedicated helpline number staffed 8.30am to 4pm weekdays. The team will also provide a befriending service for those feeling lonely and isolated. The support service will offer a daily phone call for those who have little contact with anyone else. In addition to this, it will deliver food parcels if people are unable to leave their homes because of isolation and poor mobility. Many older people do not have the facility to book shopping deliveries and some are not be able to access food banks either.

Age UK West Cumbria Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Jane Mindar, said: “We want to make older people in West Cumbria feel supported as the COVID-19 crisis is very frightening, especially for those who are isolated and lonely. We want to connect people with services in their local area alongside offering telephone befriending to help people feel less isolated and stop this daunting time effecting their mental health.”

Residents in Appleby will receive help from the Appleby Emergency Response Group after it received £9,030. Volunteers are offering support to those who are self-isolating and do not have a network of family, friends or neighbours to help them. That support may change as the situation develops, but currently includes helping with organising shopping deliveries, collecting prescriptions, and supporting the local convenience store, ensuring deliveries are on the shelves as soon as possible.

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Appleby Emergency Response Group Co-ordinator, Caroline Dodgeon, said: “The funding will allow us to provide a robust and sustainable response to the people of Appleby. It will allow us the flexibility to change and adapt plans as the situation changes. We are dealing with a large increase in the number of people who wish to volunteer. We have set up a network of Street Wardens and cards offering help have been distributed to all properties in the town.”

Carer Support South Lakes is an independent, local charity and network partner of Carers Trust. It provides a range of services to support and enhance the lives of unpaid carers of all ages throughout South Lakeland. Carers are frequently isolated due to the demands of their caring role and this is only intensified by the social distancing that is now being imposed on the whole of the UK population as a result of the coronavirus.

The grant for £3,000 will help with IT equipment, to enable the charity to upgrade its current IT systems. This includes installing appropriate software for all its staff, trustees and volunteers and upgrading its existing server to enable it to have full remote access. The extra equipment will also enable the charity to provide appropriate support online and provide more counselling support to its carers and members of staff. Over the next 12 weeks, the charity will offer counselling over the phone to its clients through a network of volunteer counsellors, as well as to members of staff who are supporting carers in challenging situations.

Cumbria Community Foundation launched the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund with £100,000 of its own funds. Since then, almost £700,000 has been raised by local businesses, charitable trusts and individuals.

Chief Executive, Andy Beeforth, said: “Local closures, cancellations and limited social contact are profoundly impacting our way of life. Charitable organisations are leading the community response, working to continue, adapt, and even expand their services to help residents through this tumultuous time. They are on the front line, providing advice and guidance, food, and critical care for our most vulnerable neighbours.

“These initial grants will support the urgent and immediate needs of those most vulnerable and adversely affected by this unprecedented crisis.”

The Community Foundation expects to award further grants on a weekly basis to respond to emerging needs.

The Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund is working alongside the National Emergencies Trust’s Coronavirus Appeal which is raising money nationally to financially support groups across the county. For more information about the Fund and how to donate click here.

For groups wanting to enquire about funding, they should click here or contact the grants team on grants@cumbriafoundation.org

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