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Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund closed to new applications

An emergency fund set up to provide financial support to charitable organisations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is now closed to new applications.

The Cumbria COVID-19 Response 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, £2.36 million has been distributed to almost 200 organisations and community groups across the county. Grants have been awarded to support vital services like foodbanks, delivery of food and care packages to vulnerable people, telephone and online services offering friendship, support to help reduce isolation, emotional, mental health and financial hardship, and support to access benefits and debt advice to name but a few.

Jenny Benson, Director of Programmes & Partnerships at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “It is with regret that we announce the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund is now closed to new applications. This is because all available funds have been spent.

“Thank you to all our donors who have made grants through the fund possible. The people and communities of Cumbria have responded magnificently to the challenges of the pandemic. It has been a privilege to support hundreds of groups and thousands of volunteers across the county. The fund remains open to new donations and any additional funds donated will be targeted at organisations supporting those facing hardship caused by the pandemic.”

Cumbria Community Foundation manages around 100 grant making funds on behalf of individuals, families, and businesses, awarding on average £2 million a year to a wide range of organisations. These remain open to new applications as normal.

If groups require further financial assistance to continue supporting vulnerable people, we are encouraging them to contact us and apply using our general application process,” said Jenny.

“We know some organisations are concerned that funders will only award grants that are responding to the pandemic. If funds are limited, then priority may be given to projects that are addressing current issues and have the greatest positive impact on our communities, however, we will continue to award other kinds of grants in line with the wishes and interests of our fundholders.”

For more information about the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund or to donate, click here.

Communities in Westmorland boosted by funding

Charitable projects in parts of Eden and South Lakeland are being encouraged to apply for funding.

The Holehird Trust Fund, managed by Cumbria Community Foundation, offers grants for voluntary and community organisations which benefit residents in the former county of Westmorland.

Since 2005, the fund has supported almost 500 projects, awarding £600,000 to help support activities for local communities. The maximum grant is usually around £2,000, with the average being £1,250.

Dan Fox

The Morland Festival of Light, organised by The Studio Morland CIC, takes place in February next year over four nights. The project recently received £1,000 to create a light art trail around the gardens of Morland House, with local residents being encouraged to create their own light art window display in their homes to help illuminate the whole village.

Kate Brundrett, Director of The Studio Morland, said: “We are delighted with the funds raised so far to make this festival happen. With the light trail, fantastic art installations, sound interventions and community art works, we think it will bring a much-needed reason to celebrate as we come out of the darkness of winter with the addition of the COVID restrictions, giving us all a boost and hope in our community spirit. We hope it will bring delight to everyone’s faces and that it might become the start of an annual Festival of Light for Morland, which would be a lovely heart-warming event to look forward to each year.”

The Coronavirus pandemic has greatly accelerated a need for a community building in the heart of Stainton, near Kendal, which is the only parish in South Lakeland without a community building.

Stainton Chapel, a 17th Century chapel is being turned into a community centre, now known as the Stainton Institute, thanks to a committed group of local residents. The charity recently received £3,500 towards the final phase of the renovation project.

Geoff Wilson, Chairman, said: “We are extremely grateful to receive funding through Cumbria Community Foundation from the Holehird Trust Fund.

“The chapel needs to be restored, both for the community and for prosperity. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a community centre, not just for now but for future generations to enjoy. The grant will be used to complete the internal and external painting and preservation treatment work.”

Ellen Clements, Senior Grant Officer at Cumbria Community Foundation said: “We know some of the challenges that rural communities are facing as they recover from lockdown and the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

“Over the last 15 years, we have made grants to support community transport, older people’s groups, health and disability groups, community volunteers, sports sessions, homelessness, mental health, and family wellbeing, to name a few.

“The Holehird Trust Fund can address what is really important to local people and we’re delighted to administer this funding on behalf of Cumbria County Council.”

If you are a voluntary or community group in Cumbria, supporting residents in the former county of Westmorland, there is still time to apply for a grant before the next deadline. Priority will be given to projects which support one of the following: elderly people, disabled people or children and young people up to the age of 18.

Applications for funding must be received by 10th February 2021 for a decision on 10th March 2021. For more information on the Holehird Trust Fund please contact:

Ellen Clements on 01900 825760 or email

Bedrock programme launched to help West Cumbrian charities thrive

Charitable groups in West Cumbria are set to benefit from free organisational development support and advice, and access to funding to deliver long-term benefits.

Cumbria Community Foundation, in partnership with Sellafield Ltd, has designed and launched Bedrock, a new programme, which focuses on building the resilience, capabilities and financial sustainability of charities and community organisations in West Cumbria.

  1. Bedrock Awards – tailored package of business consultancy and funding, delivered over two stages, designed to develop, and implement improved ways of working for a small number of charitable organisations in West Cumbria
  2. Bedrock Basics – advice and support aimed at strengthening and building capacity of the community sector in West Cumbria, delivered by Cumbria CVS

Bedrock forms part of the initial three-year Transforming West Cumbria social investment programme. Funded through Sellafield Ltd’s social impact multiplied programme, it focuses on promoting thriving communities by supporting sustainable activities that create self-reliance and independence.

Unlike a traditional grant, which would support “business as usual” or a new project, the Bedrock Awards will help community groups to plan for sustainability, development, and growth via a thorough analysis of opportunities for improvement.

Successful applicants will be offered a two-stage programme of tailored business support, together with funding awards, to enable participation and implementation. The Bedrock Awards are intended to deliver long-term benefit to each awardee, resulting in an increased ability to help a greater number of people more effectively and a more resilient organisation. Organisations interested in applying for a Bedrock Award should read the Bedrock Award criteria and contact Cumbria Community Foundation for an initial conversation, before submitting an Expression of Interest.

Cumbria CVS will deliver the Bedrock Basics element of the programme supporting community organisations in West Cumbria to develop and improve their governance, trustee recruitment and training, business planning, funding and volunteer recruitment processes. There will also be support for project monitoring and evaluation, digital skills, impact reporting, along with the opportunity to attend training and networking events. Organisations interested in taking part in the Bedrock Basics programme should contact Cumbria CVS for further information.

In addition, Cumbria Exchange will support organisations participating in the Bedrock programme to recruit skills-based volunteers.

Gary McKeating, Head of Community & Development at Sellafield Ltd said: “The Transforming West Cumbria programme is a new way of working for us. Based on the facts that were revealed in the West Cumbria Opportunities and Challenges report, together with the Foundation, we have developed a detailed suite of projects that incorporate working with well-established and knowledgeable delivery partners so we can address and change entrenched issues together.

Jenny Benson, Director of Programmes & Partnerships at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “There is a strong sense of community spirit in West Cumbria that is underpinned by an active and diverse Third Sector. However, we know that this is a difficult time for many community groups as the demand for their services increase, whilst funding levels fall. This is a situation that has been made all the more challenging by the current coronavirus crisis. Vulnerable people need their support now more than ever. It is vital that community organisations are supported to become more resilient and financially sustainable.

“The Bedrock programme will significantly invest in community organisations. Critically this support will enable them to deliver services, more efficiently and effectively to more people in need, helping West Cumbria’s communities become stronger, more resilient and thrive.”

Bedrock is delivered by Cumbria Community Foundation, in partnership with Cumbria CVS, Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Social Enterprise Partnership and Cumbria Exchange.

Bridget Johns, District Manager – West at Cumbria CVS, said: “Cumbria CVS is delighted to be part of this partnership as the potential impact this programme can make is huge. Front line charities and community groups have gone above and beyond during the pandemic, adapting their services, and supporting more people without having the time to reflect about what they need to be sustainable and more efficient. Bedrock will allow them to do just that.”

The deadline for Bedrock Award expressions of interest is 8th January 2021. For more information, click here, and contact Gary Higgs, Grants & Donor Services Officer on 01900 825760 or by email

For more information about how to participate in Bedrock Basics, contact Bridget Johns at Cumbria CVS on 01768 800350 or by email: