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

30th April 2020

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.”