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£2 million to charities during coronavirus pandemic

Cumbria Community Foundation, which created the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to help people in need during the pandemic, has distributed more than £2m in just eight months.

The Fund was set up in March by Cumbria Community Foundation to respond to the challenges faced by many people and families across the county.

Since then, more than 330 applications have been received with 185 organisations and community groups sharing £2,129,583.

Grants have been awarded to support community organisations providing vital services like foodbanks, delivery of food and care packages to vulnerable people, telephone and online services offering friendship and support to help reduce isolation, emotional, mental health and domestic violence support and financial hardship, support to access benefits and debt advice to name but a few.

The Community Foundation team have worked hard to assess an overwhelming level of applications ensuring vital support reaches those most in need as quickly as possible. Figures reveal that the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund received almost the same number of applications as the charity received in the whole of the previous year. Initially, applications were reviewed weekly but for the past six months they have been considered fortnightly.

Last week, more than half a million pounds was awarded to 29 organisations.

West Cumbria Domestic Violence Support received £14,824 to continue offer counselling support to victims of domestic violence. Victoria Pike, Project Manager, 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. Early intervention or lack of early support can enable or prohibit a person’s ability to break away from abuse. If they do decide to talk, whether they have left an abusive relationship or just contemplating it, it is important to have someone to talk to, to discuss the various options and help them make informed choices.

“The grant will enable us to increase counselling hours and employ new counsellors for the next six months, allowing us to support more people throughout COVID-19 and reduce our waiting list. Thanks again for your continued support and allowing us to change the lives of victims in West Cumbria suffering from domestic and sexual abuse.”

Carers Support Cumbria, a consortium that brings together the four carers organisations across the county, received £34,184 to roll out a Carer-Connect, a digital platform allowing carers to interact and access support, advice, and information online.

Chief Operating Officer of Carer-Connect, Debi Marsden, explains why the timing of receipt of this fund is so vital: “The grant will enable Carers-Connect to further its reach into the whole of Cumbria rather than just the South Lakes area. This platform will really support carers to connect with one another regardless of their geographical location.

“COVID-19 has really highlighted the issue of acute social isolation and the importance of support and conversations for all unpaid Carers. This is why Carer-Connect is needed right now. Carer-Connect is predominantly a social space with professional services and support built in. This safe and moderated forum is for Carers of all ages, with groups for Young Carers, Adult and Parent Carers living throughout Cumbria”

Staff and volunteers at Mind in Furness can now work remotely, offering a better service to people suffering with their mental health, after it received £9,694 to upgrade the IT equipment.

Karen Dobson, Chief Officer, said: “Whilst we were able to adapt quickly to working from home at the  start of the pandemic and use funding from Mind to purchase laptops and phones for our staff team, we recently started to experience issued with our IT. Our server was in fact unable to manage the amount of work going through it- it was old and nearing its end of life but the increase in our reliance on IT  to communicate with our clients and each other –over email, social media, zoom placed additional pressures on the system.  The funding from Cumbria Community Foundation will allow us to update our server and in doing so we improve the access to IT that is so crucial right now for our team. This means we can continue to support people remotely and digitally and can remain connected to each other and to our client group. We anticipate a further increase in our workloads with the impact of covid on mental health and this award ensures we are well placed to manage further demand.”

The Community Chef Project, based in St Herbert’s Church in Carlisle, received £3,300 to feed the homeless and the community over the winter months. Reverend Alun Jones said: “The grant will enable us to provide a hot meal every morning and evening for the homeless of Carlisle. The Community Chef Project is led by chef, Michael Cullen, and a small team of volunteers.”

Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “The emotional, physical and financial impacts of the pandemic have been incredibly severe, and many lives have been turned upside down. Sadly, there are even more people in Cumbria experiencing extreme hardship, isolation, loneliness, and anxiety.

“The generosity of our supporters is humbling. Sadly, this year has contained much grief and anxiety for people. However, we’re encouraged by the way people and groups have responded to help. Groups have come together to urgently deliver essential and critical services to those most in need. Small interventions can literally prevent a family becoming homeless and we are grateful to every group and individual that has helped.

“It’s clear that the tough times are far from over and our thoughts go out to everyone who has been affected by this global health crisis.”

The Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund has received hundreds of donations from local people and businesses, the National Emergencies Trust, and the NHS.

There is now limited funding available in the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund, which will be targeted at supporting those most vulnerable. Community groups requiring financial support should apply no later than 8th December 2020.

For further information, call 01900 825760, email or visit

£1.1 million NHS England funding secured for North East and Cumbria charity sector

Thanks to funding provided by NHS England, charities and community groups across the North East and Cumbria will receive additional money this winter to support people experiencing hardship and at risk of mental ill health.

The North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) is working with Cumbria Community Foundation and County Durham Community Foundation to directly fund a number of voluntary sector organisations providing additional capacity and relieving winter pressures on the wider healthcare system.

Anxiety, stress and depression are normal reactions to life events such as losing someone, losing your job, or suffering isolation. It isn’t inevitable that everyone needs a medical intervention and emotional and practical support may be better delivered by small, local organisations.

Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “We know that the challenges people face are often amplified during the winter period, especially when they come on top of the additional stresses experienced because of COVID-19. Not only will this funding support the immediate mental winter pressures, it aims to safeguard and develop services delivered by voluntary and community sector groups that provide day to day support for our most vulnerable residents.”

Grants of up to £25,000 are available to support voluntary and community sector interventions, which promote positive mental health and wellbeing in the widest sense and for all ages. Successful applicants must spend their award by 31st March 2021.

Funding awarded could include retention of much needed community resources and services, to develop or extend healthy activities or initiatives, projects targeting isolation, vulnerability and support to those shielding, and peer-support initiatives. There will be a particular focus on supporting people facing health inequalities, as well as those who are experiencing the impact of the pandemic.

John Lawlor, Chief Executive at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Senior Responsible Office for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System Mental Health Programme, said: “2020 has been a challenging year for all of us and partnership working continues to be the foundation of our developing integrated care system. The NHS Winter Funding allocation will enable us to work collaboratively with charities and community groups across the region to proactively support people in their communities.

The NHS recognises the fantastic service that is provided by voluntary and community sector groups and this funding will help to ensure that people across the North East and North Cumbria have access to timely support that is, most importantly, determined by local needs.”

Andy continues: “Social prescribing teams are increasingly referring people to local charities and community groups that are providing a range of non-clinical services, from holistic interventions and general wellbeing, such as singing for health, to financial support. However, these groups have been massively affected by COVID-19, and many have lost significant funds. That is why there will be a particular focus on supporting organisations experiencing financial challenges as a result of the pandemic, either due to reduction in income and/or an increase in demand for services.”

To find out more about the Fund, click here or to apply call the grants team on 01900 825760.

Transforming communities

Hellrigg Windfarm, operated by RWE Renewables is helping to transform its local communities through the Hellrigg Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund.

Solway Community School Bike Club based in Solway Community School, received £1,323 to set up. The club aims to get students on their bikes and out into the countryside to improve fitness and wellbeing as well as helping with team building and leadership skills.

 Andrew Callaway, a teacher at the school, said: “The money was used to buy tools and spare parts to help the students learn how to maintain their bikes and ensure they are safe when we go out on rides. Training  has also be given on how to safely lead group rides on the roads. The students are thrilled that we have been awarded this money and  making this dream into a reality.”

Based in Mawbray village, The Lowther Arms closed in December 2018. In May that year, Holme St Cuthbert’s parish council applied for the pub to be listed as an Asset of Community Value, which allowed the newly formed group to bid and gave six months breathing space to consider all the options including a community buy-out.

The grant from Hellrigg Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund has covered volunteer expenses, such as travel costs, meeting room and stationary, so that members of the group can progress with the process.

Chris Atkinson, Chairman, said “We’ve lost just about everything else in the parish, including the shop, post office, and most of our bus services.

“When we realised there was overwhelming support to buy the pub, we immediately began to organise ourselves. A local survey showed that most people want to save the heart of the village – a traditional pub serving traditional food, but with extra facilities like a small shop, meeting place, library, café and courier collection point.”

The group is supported by the Plunket Foundation’s More than a Pub initiative, funded by Power to Change with access to specialist business support.

St Andrew’s Church Hall, based in Silloth, benefits around 200 people in the community. The hall is part of St Andrew’s church and part of the West Cumbria Network. The hall provides a variety of activities, clubs and groups including a weekly lunch club, free legal advice, and social activities; for example craft classes. The hall is also available to hire.

The church has undergone a number of improvements over the past couple of years, including new windows and doors and redecoration.

This grant from Hellrigg Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund  supported the renovation of the flooring in the main hall. Many of the users of the all are over 80 years of age and this has meant that the floor is now safe to walk on and without hazards.

The new floor is enjoyed by cubs, sewing classes, pensioners clubs, craft classes, yoga and over 30 people at its free lunches. They also  hold evening dinner and entertainment.

Originally set up by Inspira, CYA started delivering the project in 2017 when Inspira pulled out. Running in collaboration with other youth organisations in Allerdale, it has had an appreciable impact on anti-social behaviour rates across the borough. It works in partnership North Allerdale Development Trust, Wigton Youth Station, Aspatria Dreamscheme, Castle Hill Trust, GLL, Soundwave and South Workington Youth Partnership.

Each organisation offers different youth-led activities in venues across the borough on a Friday night. This grant from the Hellrigg Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund  has supported young people aged between 11 and 19 come together to enjoy a wide range of activities such as team games, quiz nights, craft sessions and cookery workshops.

Cath Clarke, Chief Officer of Cumbria Youth Alliance, said: “Access to positive activities really assists with ensuring young people make a successful transition into adulthood. They become more engaged and we notice marked improvements in their behaviour. Many young people started on the programme as beneficiaries and have now moved into volunteering positions, helping more young people to benefit in the communities.

“Local police have remarked to the clubs what a difference this project makes to young people who often have nowhere else to go. It has led to reduction in petty and persistent offending in some of the most disadvantaged communities in West Cumbria.”


Calls for Cumbrians to support their older neighbours this winter.

Generous Cumbrians are being asked to help local vulnerable older people keep warm this winter.

Most winters, 300 Cumbrians die because of problems associated with not being able to heat their homes or eat properly. In worse winters, the figure has risen to 500.

The Winter Warmth Appeal, run by Cumbria Community Foundation, makes sure that vulnerable people who may have to choose between heating and eating, can stay warm and well through the cold weather.

Last year, 1,166 Cumbrians were helped to keep warm, after Cumbrians donated over £200,000 to the appeal.

And this year, any donations made between Monday 16th November and midday Monday 14th December will be doubled with match funding to double the impact

66 year old Jean from South Lakeland says a winter warmth grant improved her life and health.

“I couldn’t believe it when I received the money last year,” says Jean. “It was absolutely wonderful, it helped me such a lot. It was such a relief.”

Jean had to leave her job at Asda because of ill-health but wasn’t able to draw her pension for seven months.

“I was really struggling. Money just stopped coming in and I didn’t know which way to turn,” says Jean.

“I was using very, very little heating because I was worried about the money. It was getting seriously cold in the flat.

“I used to go to bed at about 7.30pm and put the electric blanket on for one hour and then turn it off and just stay in bed until the morning, because it was too cold to sit up.

“I have Reynard’s disease which is bad circulation, and my legs could be so painful with the cold they would go purple. I used to dread it if there was going to be ice or snow because it would be so cold.

“I was just worried to death about the money a lot of the time.”

Jean found out that she could apply to the Winter Warmth Fund, from Age UK, which works in partnership with Cumbria Community Foundation making sure the money reaches those in need.

She received £150 and says it allowed her to put two heaters on in her flat.

“It meant I was comfortable, and honestly it was amazing. I even stayed up and watched TV,” said Jean.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to the people who donated to the Winter Warmth Appeal. It made a huge difference to me.”

David, 71 is from Workington and has a heart condition. He also received a Winter Warmth grant and said: “The money was very welcome. Without it, I can either eat or put the gas on. My pension is very low. It went up £2.50 last year, but the rent and council tax went up by more. It gave me the confidence to put the heating on. Because when you are on low income you haven’t got much spare cash.”

Mr and Mrs Carter, from Barrow are both in their 70’s. Mrs Carter said: “My husband has vascular problems and is always cold so we have the heating on from the moment he gets up to the time he goes to bed. He has been waiting two and a half years for an operation and it has been cancelled because of the pandemic. If we didn’t receive the grant, we would have to limit the heating to try and save some money. It has made a lot of difference.”

Penrith resident, Frank is 75 and is grateful for the grant over winter: “It has made all the difference in the world. It means I can keep warm and have a decent Christmas dinner. My friend who is in a wheelchair told me about the fund when we were talking about how we would get by.”

One in eight households in Cumbria are said to be living in fuel poverty, it is one of the hidden issues in this rural county which greatly affects the health and wellbeing of those who cannot heat their homes.

Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “This money is crucial to help older people stay well and safe during the cold weather, and in some cases, it saves lives.

“More than 32,000 older Cumbrians live alone, many in poorly insulated buildings. Problems with isolation and health are made worse if people can’t afford to stay warm in their homes.

“We know how generous Cumbrians are – the Winter Warmth Appeal has raised £1m over the last 10 years.

“We are asking Cumbrians to help again so that we can keep vulnerable people in our county safe this winter. Anyone who donates during our match funding month will have the amount automatically doubled.”

WCF Ltd, the John Laing Charitable Trust, the Roselands Trust, the Johnson Fund, Brian and Ann Clark Fund and the Hadfield Trust have pledged £50,000 which will be used to match donations from the public.

To donate:


Cheque payable to ‘Cumbria Community Foundation’ (write Winter Warmth on the back) and post to Cumbria Community Foundation, Dovenby Hall, Dovenby, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 0PN.

Phone call 01900 820825 Monday – Friday between 9am and 5pm.

High Sheriff hosts online auction and prize draw to help support communities

High Sheriff of Cumbria, Julie Barton, is hoping to raise thousands of pounds to support charitable organisations across the county via an online auction and prize draw.

The auction and prize draw will take place entirely online and run from Sunday 15th November at 10am and until Sunday 6th December at 9pm. The auction lots up for grabs range from a luxury two night spa break for two people at the Low Wood Bay Resort and Spa with dinner in the Blue Smoke Restaurant and a five night rental of a Swift motorhome, to memorabilia such as a Liverpool shirt signed by the Premiership winning team and a signed Barrow AFC ball in the year the Bluebirds returned to the football league, to unique experiences such as a ride in a 1923 Bentley and a cruise in a retro skippered boat.

The money raised will go to the High Sheriff’s General Fund, which is administered by Cumbria Community Foundation. Grants are made from the fund to local charitable projects that help improve the lives of disadvantaged people across Cumbria; improve life skills, education, employability and enterprise for disadvantaged people, support vulnerable older people, improve the health and wellbeing of people and strengthen and support fragile communities.

Julie Barton said: “There are many worthy organisations in Cumbria that hold communities together. vital in helping local people and our communities to thrive. I am delighted to be able to hold this online auction and prize draw in support of Cumbria Community Foundation by raising funds for the High Sheriff’s General Fund. I am also very grateful indeed to all the local businesses and individuals who have stepped forward with such excellent lots for both the auction and prize draw. Their generosity has been outstanding.”

There are 24 auction lots and six raffle prizes up for grabs. The full list of lots and prizes can be viewed here: where you can also place your bids or enter prize draws.

Andy Beeforth, CEO of Cumbria Community Foundation said: “It has been a very unusual year for the High Sheriff of Cumbria with the presence of COVID-19, but this hasn’t stopped Julie from assisting and promoting the work of Cumbria Community Foundation and local charities, and helping to raise the profile of the valuable work we do. We are grateful for her continued support and for the amazing range of auction and raffle prizes that have been so generously donated.”

For more information visit

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Grants have been awarded to five north Cumbrian charities supporting those struggling with the impact of the covid pandemic

A charitable fund set up to support those struggling to cope in north Cumbria, has awarded its first grants.

The £180,000 Psychological Support Fund was created by the NHS and Cumbria County Council, and is held by Cumbria Community Foundation.

Bids which demonstrate a collaborative approach, and tackle the impact of anxiety, isolation, and bereavement have been reviewed and a total of £79,700 awarded.

They are:

Together We CIC in west Cumbria has been awarded £25,000 to increase the number of people struggling with their mental wellbeing who can be supported in Carlisle.

Mencap Carlisle has been awarded £15,000 to support a wellbeing and nature project.

iCan Health and Fitness CIC in Carlisle has been awarded £15,000 to expand and support people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Cumbria Youth Alliance has been awarded £14,700 around tackling gaming addiction in young people.

Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland has been awarded £10,000 to offer more bereavement support and counselling.

Together We CIC – aims to empower people to take control over their physical and mental health and wellbeing. The Together We Talk project provides 1 to 1 psychological and mental health interventions for all ages from 11 upwards.

Director Sam Joughin said: “The funding allows the project to increase capacity by targeting a further 80 people struggling with their mental health. It is very much needed to meet the increased pressure placed on the service during this uncertain and difficult time for many people.”

People with learning disability and/or autism have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and the regulations that came with it. Many never really came out of the first lockdown as their usual activities, like being able to attend day services, were not always available to them.

Sheila Gregory, Director at Carlisle Mencap, said: “These restrictions and the fear created by the virus have had detrimental effects on their mental health. We fear it will take people a very long time to recover.

“This is why this grant, which takes us into a period of recovery, is so very welcome. We know that being in the outdoors and close to nature is a great healer, so we delighted to working with Cumbria Wildlife Trust on this project.”

Julia Clifford, Director at iCan Health & Fitness said: “Our services are facing increasing demand due to COVID-19 and our mission is to encourage and empower as many people in our community as possible. Thanks to this funding, we will be able to offer new and exciting amenities that will help so many, through such tough times. Leaders with lived experience are crucial to the ongoing societal change we so desperately need and with this money, we aim to support them to become life changing heroes in their own communities.”

Cumbria Youth Alliance will be working with young people around online gaming addiction. Sophie Birkett, Finance, Contracts and Compliance Officer for Cumbria Youth Alliance, said: “Due to COVID-19 many young people have turned to their screens as a coping mechanism and while this is ok in moderation having an addiction to online gaming can have a detrimental effect on young people’s mental health.

“We firmly believe this is a gap that lacks the support needed. With this funding, we can help and support young people with understanding the effects of having a gaming addiction, offering other coping mechanisms, improving mental health, and helping them to support their peers.” 

Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland will use the funding to provide bereavement support through its Family Support Team.

Alison Manson, Counsellor and Family Support Service Lead, said: “This magnificent commitment will now allow us to expand the service and offer further support to many more individuals. This will be of huge benefit, particularly at this potentially crucial isolating time for vulnerable people, their families and carers.

“I would like to thank the Psychological Support Fund for making a difference to local bereaved individuals within our community.”

The considerable impact of Covid-19, and the subsequent lockdown, has been significant on people’s lives – physically, emotionally and economically.

The fund can be accessed by third sector organisations in north Cumbria supporting people with anxiety and isolation and other mental health issues. It is also for organisations supporting those who have been bereaved.

For more information or to apply for up to £25,000, call 01900 825760 or visit

There is also support for anyone aged 16 and over facing increased anxiety and other mental health challenges via Togetherall, an online service offering online peer-peer support, access to an anonymous community and lots of information, as well as courses and resources covering a range of mental health and wellbeing topics. The service can be accessed online from anywhere, at any time. All people need to do is register with their postcode at:

The online service Kooth is available for young people aged 11-18 in Cumbria