Throughout its 20-year history, Cumbria Community Foundation’s annual celebration dinner has been a firm favourite in the autumn calendar for hundreds of people from across the county. Due to restrictions, this year the Foundation has arranged a virtual annual showcase event and everyone is welcome.
Stronger Foundations: the way through COVID-19 will be held online on Thursday 15 October and there is capacity for the Foundation to extend the invitation to anyone who would like to hear more about its work and its plans for the future. Rory Stewart, former MP for Penrith and the Borders and candidate for leader of the Conservative Party and London Mayor, is the keynote speaker for the evening. His unique awareness and insight into the situation in Cumbria and nationally will underpin his talk on how the county can build back on stronger foundations as it moves forward through the impact of COVID-19.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Cumbria’s charitable sector has shown great strength in adapting to new challenges, shifting the service they deliver and how they deliver it, with many having to move much of their work online. Organisations with the same goals – in the third sector, local government, and wider commercial and infrastructure organisations – have worked together to deliver better, more impactful services, and to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable.
Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive at the Foundation, said: “We are delighted that Rory Stewart, who knows the county so well, is able to join us and speak about the way forward for Cumbria through COVID-19. We will also hear from two local groups that have been supported through our COVID-19 Response Fund: Food initiative, S.H.I.N.E. (Support, Help in Nourishing Everyone), which was established during the pandemic to support vulnerable people in Brampton, and Love Barrow Families.
“Communities throughout Cumbria, and the UK, have come together in response to COVID-19. There has been an overwhelming public response to the call for volunteers and millions of pounds have been donated to the third sector demonstrating an innate desire for people to support each other. We would like to use that strengthened spirit of collaboration and build on these stronger foundations to shape our county for the better, and give our third sector the support it needs to respond to the emerging and evolving challenges presented by COVID-19.”
The Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund was launched in March 2020 and to date has awarded more than £1.3 million to over 160 groups across Cumbria. The needs continue to evolve as the situation develops and donations to the fund are needed as much as ever.
Richard Dawson, Regional Director at Rathbones noted that they were pleased to accept the request to sponsor this event as part of their regular support for the Foundation: “Cumbria is a region that will feel the impact of the current pandemic as tourism companies will continue to be affected for some time to come. The impact on local employment is already being felt and following the end of the furlough scheme we envisage this continuing potentially into 2021. Organisations such as Cumbria Community Foundation, with its resources and connections across the county, are invaluable in helping people and organisations negotiate these challenging times.”
The Foundation is also pleased to welcome members and supporters of the newly launched Cumbria Club to its first annual showcase event. There will be a presentation from the Foundation’s Vice President, Lord Bragg introducing the Cumbria Club to a wider audience.
Over the past ten years, community groups across Eden and South Lakeland have benefited from more than a quarter of a million pounds thanks to the generosity of a locally owned family business.
Westmorland Limited, a second-generation family business, which started in 1972 when the Dunning Family opened Tebay Services in Cumbria, set up a charitable fund in 2010 so that people working for company could access funding for community projects, which they were personally involved in.
The fund is managed by Cumbria Community Foundation and in that time, the Westmorland Family Community Fund has awarded 47 charitable groups grants of between £250 and £24,536. Each year, the Foundation receives a variety of grant applications and is able to support organisations such as Growing Well and The Oaklea Trust.
Growing Well, near Kendal, received £14,000 to support its mental health activities at Low Sizergh Barn. The charity provides a safe, supportive working environment to nurture mental health recovery on two hectares of land. The on-farm Occupational Therapy team provide daily support to volunteers and run life skills courses on managing mental health and returning to work or education.
Growing Well Chief Executive, Mary Smith, said: “We are extremely grateful for Westmorland’s grant, which has helped 100 people recover from mental ill health over the past year – and crucially has helped us keep on growing through lockdown due to the closure of the site from March to June.
“Our volunteers are now back working on a farm abundant with summer produce, and it’s thanks to funders like Westmorland Ltd that we were able to maintain our farming operation through these difficult times and fulfil our commitment to our Crop Share customers, so they were able to receive their weekly bags of fresh, organic vegetables throughout lockdown.”
The Westmorland Family Community Fund helps projects which support older adults, children and young people, groups who manage village facilities and groups operating or providing services in the travel to work area for Westmorland Limited; especially the communities of Tebay, Orton, Shap, Penrith, Kirkby Stephen, Stainton and Appleby.
The Appleby Hub, run by The Oaklea Trust, can continue to offer a range of community activities thanks to a grant of £6,290 from the Westmorland Family Community Fund.
People affected with mental health issues, those with dementia, and young people will benefit as the funding contributed to three community projects: A Safe Place support group for those who are struggling with their mental health, My Smart Music for those with dementia and their carers, and a youth group for young people aged 11-18 years.
Sue Green said: “Cumbria Community Foundation and grants from its fund holders have been invaluable by enabling organisations like us to support other smaller organisations that lack the governance structures that are needed. Oaklea’s aim to support stronger communities has been enhanced by the Foundation’s support. Appleby Hub has experienced a significant hit due to the pandemic lockdown, but we are looking to rebuild and support people that have been affected.”
Ellen Clements, Senior Grants & Donor Services Officer at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “We are proud to manage the funds for Westmorland Limited as they are vital in supporting some of our most rural communities. It gives community groups a real opportunity to improve the lives of people and places where they live.”