September Update

Author: Kevin Walsh

Little did I know when we held a training session for members of our grants panels in October 2019 and discussed our preparedness for future emergencies that we would be gearing up to support the vulnerable in our communities in the spring of 2020. Six months on we have supported more than 150 organisations with around £1.2m of funding.

I joined the Main Grants Committee of the Community Foundation in January 2018, became a trustee in November 2018 and chair of the panel in July 2019. I can honestly say that it is one of the most satisfying roles I have ever undertaken.

Mutual aid groups have had a ‘bigger impact than government-backed volunteering schemes’.  A report from the New Local Government Network calls on government to help the groups continue and evolve. I have been attending the Carlisle Community Resilience Group during the pandemic and have been humbled by the level of volunteering that has been taking place in our communities.  Whether its picking up prescriptions, delivering much needed food or simply picking up the ‘phone, the vulnerable and isolated have been supported. Unfortunately, many in our communities do not have regular contact with family or friends and the lockdown has highlighted the need for each of us to look out for our neighbours.

Across the county, it has been great to see several organisations coming together to support disadvantaged families and individuals in their area. Many third sector organisations are facing difficulty with loss of much needed donations. By working more closely together, they can help those in need more effectively and efficiently. I am sure you have knowledge of lots of projects that have been happening in your communities but here are some examples if needed:

The Foundation is delighted to be part of Transforming West Cumbria (TWC), which is promising to “laser focus” on the causes of inequality in the area’s most vulnerable communities. Sellafield Ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) have invested £2.2m to help west Cumbria’s most vulnerable. The investment programme will take on west Cumbria’s most entrenched social and economic problems. It aims to put local people in charge of their own futures by empowering neighbourhoods to create transformational change. The programme will run for an initial three-year period from 2020. It is the first investment to be announced under Sellafield Ltd’s newly branded social impact programme, Social Impact Multiplied (Six.)  We hope that the learning from this new and exciting collaboration can be used to support similar activity in other parts of the county in the future.

With winter approaching, the flu season looming and the uncertainties over Covid-19 continuing, we will develop and focus our support to groups with the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund. Two significant events loom in the Foundation’s calendar, the launch of our annual Winter Warmth Appeal and the Foundation’s Annual Dinner – this will be an online event, to be inspired by stories of our grant making and insightful words from our special guests, for further information about the event please contact