Working together to battle the COVID-19 outbreak

30th April 2020

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.”