Cumbria’s response to COVID-19

Author: Andy Beeforth - 22.04.2020

The people of Cumbria have responded amazingly to the COVID-19 outbreak.  We’ve had some of the highest recorded cases in the UK and with our large population of older people it has been a worrying time for everyone.

Tens of thousands of older people and people with medical conditions have been locked down in their homes for weeks.  Many people have lost their jobs and businesses have had to close.

The Community Foundation created the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund on 17th March to fund the important work of charities helping our most vulnerable people.  Since then, it has given out over half a million pounds to over 80 organisations involved in the response.

Food and medicines have been delivered by local community volunteers, Age UK and other groups.  All have had grants from the Community Foundation.

It is the poorest and most vulnerable people in our communities that are most seriously affected in times of crisis.  We know increasing numbers of families are experiencing real hunger.  I draw some comfort from the fact we’ve been able to grant aid food projects across the county.  These include Kendal’s Food Hub and the Waste into Wellbeing Project which takes unwanted food from local supermarkets which the Kendal People’s Café transforms into meals that are distributed to families in need across Kendal.

We have a number of community response groups in towns such as Kendal, Appleby, Keswick, Cockermouth and Workington.  All were established in response to the floods of 2009 and 2015.  All are now coordinating provision of food and medicine in their towns and surrounding areas and will continue to do so in the months ahead.  All have received grants from the Community Foundation.

The lock down is placing particular strain on relationships and on people’s mental well-being.  This is why we have made grants to the Birchall Trust, Safety NET, Gateway for Women and West Cumbria Domestic Violence Support.  All of these organisations providing counselling and support to the victims of sexual and domestic violence.

Our farmers continue to work through the crisis, many of them are older and some are at high risk from COVID-19.  That is why we have funded the Farmer Network to create a helpline and system for coordinating volunteer effort to assist those farmers who are unable to continue caring for their livestock and managing their farms.

Our hospices and cancer care services have been even more vital at this time and all have received support from the Foundation.

These are just some examples of the grants we’ve made to support the people of Cumbria over the last few weeks, you can find more here.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to those people and organisations that have contributed to the COVID-19 Response Fund.  We have already received almost £1 million in funding.  This has come from local charitable funders, private philanthropists and local businesses and also from the National Emergencies Trust.

As lock down continues, we know the economic and social impacts will grow. Many of our charities have been unable to fundraise and some of our charities are at risk of closure.

As the demand for our grants grow, we will soon expend the funds we hold. That is why we have decided to raise the fundraising total to £3 million and ask everyone who can give to please do so.  You can make a donation here.

On behalf of all of the people in need at this time I thank you for whatever help you are able to give.