Covid-19 Funded Projects

Thank you to everyone who has supported the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund. We are working hard with charities and community groups to make sure local needs are met during this time.

Please find a list of funded projects here

The Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund Report: The First Six Months

Below are some of the charities and groups that are being supported by the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund.


Life under lockdown can cause extreme stress and anxiety and may lead to some people drinking more than they are used to or other addictive behaviours.

Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service (CADAS) received £11,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to offer a new telephone helpline and email address for anyone affected by their own or someone’s problematic addictive behaviours during this time of crisis.

Leigh Williams, Chief Executive Officer of CADAS, said: “We know that the coronavirus pandemic will massively impact the mental and physical health of people because of self-isolation, restricted movement and financial hardship and worries caused by redundancy or the threat of redundancy. People are struggling to cope and often when that happens, they turn to things like alcohol and drugs or addictive behaviours, such as gambling or gaming. If left unchecked these behaviours can become harmful and have the potential to destroy lives.

“We want to be a listening ear if people are in crisis. We also want to be a hub for all drug, alcohol and addictive behaviour information in Cumbria. We might refer callers into our own long-term, therapeutic service or signpost them to other agencies where they can receive help.

“CADAS is here to help people to recognise and identify the signs early and then offer help to them before things get out of hand – before people lose their driving licence, their job or their family.”

The new CADAS Addiction Helpline freephone number is 0800 2 54 56 58. People can also request a call back by emailing  An online chat service will be available soon.

Working in agriculture can be extremely isolating and with social distancing, and cancelled activities and events, it can put a strain on mental health. Research has also revealed that four out of five farmers under the age of 40 believe that mental health is the biggest hidden problem facing farmers today.

With 1,300 members over 25 clubs throughout the county, Cumbria Federation of Young Farmers‘ Clubs is working hard to keep members connected with each other during the global pandemic.

“Young farmers clubs plays a huge part in combatting rural isolation and promoting positive mental health – some members rely on their weekly club meetings as their social activity and one of the main priorities for the duration of the lockdown and beyond is keeping our members engaged and busy with club related activities,” said Joanne Mills, Chief Officer at Cumbria Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs.

The charity received £6,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to replace the weekly community hall gatherings with Zoom meetings and other online activities to help young farmers stay in touch.

Joanne said: “The Zoom subscription has been such a good thing for many of our clubs and we are finding there has been an upsurge since the beginning of September of those wanting to get online, which is great! The young people are really enjoying themselves and having a good giggle online, which is lovely!”

Lockdown has been particularly hard for young people. More than four in 10 say COVID-19 has increased feelings of panic and anxiety and fears about building their future, new research from The Prince’s Trust shows.

Cumbria Youth Alliance (CYA) received £4,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to offer online distance learning, available free of charge to more than 200 young people. The modules, chosen by young people in Cumbria, cover topics on emotional resilience and aim to build skills and coping strategies.

The grant has provided access to a range of modules during lockdown and participants have reported improved engagement and motivation during this period. Cath Clarke, Chief Officer at CYA, said: “Unexpectantly we have also had learners reporting improved employability as they have been able to add these courses completed to their CV’s. The add on feature which flags up any issues with learners mental health means our team can then follow up and support learners when they most need it.”
Katie Tyson joined CYA’s Choices programme in 2018 and went onto volunteer with CYA before lockdown. Katie undertook the online learning and is now supporting other learners and leading sessions at CYA’s weekly group chats for young people. Katie said: “Since starting the programme, my whole world and how I view it has done a complete 180. Without the help of Cumbria Youth Alliance, I don’t think I would have found my reason to get out of bed in the morning. My mental health has improved dramatically as well as my confidence and self-esteem”.

Cruse Cumbria is offering a telephone counselling service to ensure bereaved people have somewhere to turn. It will provide bereavement support to an estimated 200 extra people who are affected by a death whether as a direct result of COVID-19 or any other death where the crisis affects bereavement. It received £4,860 for additional training for its existing and new volunteers so they can provide specialist bereavement support in these unprecedented times.

Amy Green, Operations Manager, Cruse Cumbria, said: “We are anticipating a huge increase in demand due to COVID-19 and this funding will support us in meeting that demand. Our volunteers provide much needed specialist bereavement support, which is important now more than ever. We are committed to making sure all bereaved people across Cumbria can continue to access support.”

Cumbria Action for Sustainability has changed the way it currently offers energy advice. COVID-19 restrictions had stopped them visiting people at home but £2,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund has enabled the charity to offer this service remotely through telephone-based advice to vulnerable households.

Tina Holt, CAfS Energy Efficiency Project Officer, said: “This fund is helping us adapt so we can provide telephone, online and virtual advice to those that require or prefer it. This service will be delivered by staff who are now working from home, operating as a virtual call centre.

“Setting up a new Customer Relations Management and telephone system will be central to making this work for the team so they can support vulnerable clients across Cumbria.

“I had a phone advice call with a gentleman in Kendal who knew that his energy bills were rather high. We went online and I talked him through each step using a comparison website to switch to a new gas and electricity tariff with a new supplier, saving a predicted £460 on his bills.

“For another lady I used a 3 way phone call with her and her energy supplier to help sort out errors on her energy bill and arrange a payment plan as she has energy debts that she can’t pay at present. I could hear the relief in her voice when she discovered that she did not have to pay the full bill straight away and that with the errors resolved, her bill would be affordable in the coming year.

“We are finding that people are pleased to be able to access energy advice over the phone. If they can’t go out at all, a friendly voice on the phone is very welcome. There are things that we can’t do over the phone, so we will have a waiting list for jobs such as professionally installed draught-proofing measures. Those visits will start up again when it is safe to do so, if the householder is able to go ahead with the visit.”

Thanks to £10,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund, People First Independent Advocacy (PFIA), based in Carlisle, will continue to support people with learning difficulties through virtual self-advocacy groups.

People will stay connected and supported by trained facilitators and peers via online resources and telephone. Watch their video here.

The aim of this work is to minimise isolation, protect people with learning difficulties and to ensure their continued health, safety and wellbeing.

David Blacklock, Chief Executive, said: “This is a challenging time for all of us, for those with a learning disability and/or autism, it can be especially difficult to understand what’s happening around us and to stay well. This funding will allow us to provide vital support to some of Cumbria’s most vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for making this work possible.”

Salvation Army centres across Cumbria are providing meals and food in response to COVID-19. Each of the six offices have received a share of £25,000 from the Pappagallino Fund in an effort to tackle the pandemic and support vulnerable residents.

Commanding Officer, Martin Davison, said: “It’s wonderful to see that amidst the real challenges and grief this virus has brought, a real community spirit and willingness to work together for the common good has come to the fore. We are included in council meetings and online discussion groups and together with the foodbank and other agencies present a unified presence of support in our own diverse ways.

“Penrith Salvation Army are particularly active with meals and food provision, while Kendal have been able to maintain a drop-in service observing social distancing and appropriate safeguarding on Monday’s.”

An emotional support helpline has been set up by the charity SAFA Cumbria so that anyone in Cumbria can ring if they feel isolated, worried, or anxious about the situation. The phone line is open from Monday until Friday, 9am till 5pm and is made possible thanks to £2,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund.

Counsellors are able to provide a calm, listening ear as well as provide people with coping techniques to help improve their emotional resilience. All calls are confidential – the service only requires the caller’s first name and a contact number to call them back. The helpline number is 01229 832269.

 Kath Threlkeld, Project Manager, SAFA Cumbria, said: “The money will allow our trained counsellors to provide vital support (telephone or virtual) to anyone, not just our normal client base, who is feeling anxious, isolated or worried by the current crisis. If anyone feels they would benefit, we encourage them to get in touch.”

The fund is helping organisations like Safety Net, which works with children, young people and families who have experience of rape, exploitation, sexual and domestic abuse.

Thanks to £9,758 from the Fund, staff and volunteers can access an online training programme so they can continue to offer vital emotional support and therapy to clients digitally or over the phone.

Jo Birch, acting chief officer at Safety Net, said: “In these uncertain times we can reassure survivors that Safety Net is here to support them. The hidden epidemic of domestic and sexual abuse continues and grows during this COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will allow our vital work to continue and expand, ensuring a crucial lifeline for those who need support in Cumbria.”

One Client said: “ I am overwhelmed at how Safety net has helped me, I have made huge positive changes to me and my life, I will forever be grateful for the support I have received.

“I was helped in ways I never thought would happen. That was being believed and despite what I disclosed I still felt valued.”

Farmers in many parts of the county were already struggling after the wettest February since records began and are now facing the challenges of Coronavirus. Many farms run tourism enterprises that have been immediately impacted by restrictions but are also experiencing difficulties in sourcing supplies, disruption to markets, falling milk prices and concerns about what might happen to their livestock and businesses if they themselves become ill.

The Farmer Network has received £9,500 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to provide information, support and practical help to farmers who may be experiencing hardship and to develop a Farm Labour Emergency Support Scheme.  Farmers in many parts of the county were already struggling after the wettest February since records began and are now facing the challenges of Coronavirus.  Many farms run tourism enterprises that have been immediately impacted by restrictions but are also experiencing difficulties in sourcing supplies, disruption to markets, falling milk prices and concerns about what might happen to their livestock and businesses if they themselves become ill.

Adam Day, The Farmer Network’s Managing Director said: “Farmers are isolated, particularly during lambing, which is good for reducing the spread of COVID-19 but makes them more at risk of stress and remote from the support available in more urban areas.  This funding will enable us to provide support to farmers by listening to their concerns, helping them apply for funding and with accessing supplies.  From the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, farmers have raised concerns as to what might happen should keyworkers or family members be unable to work because of illness.  We will also help them find emergency labour where this is not available from their friends and family networks.


Bassenthwaite Community Response received £500 to allow it to coordinate all the assistance measures to help my community of Bassenthwaite through the COVID-19 crisis, without the financial worry of fuel for vehicles and other expenses incurred.

Gordie Oliver, said: “I suspect like ours many volunteer groups are run by people who have the time to commit, due to their employment and income ceasing. As such this grant is extremely important to the relive financial concerns we may have.  Already all the measure we have implemented are being well used by the community, and I have received numerous messages of support and thank’s.”

The coordination of volunteers to support vulnerable people who are self-isolating is imperative during this time. Cockermouth Emergency Response Group (CERG) received £4,890 to facilitate the community volunteer response across the town.

CERG was created in response to the frequent flooding of the town and is a partnership between Churches Together, Rotary and Cockermouth Flood Action Group. More than 160 new volunteers have signed up in the last couple of weeks, providing dog walking services, foodbank and pharmacy deliveries and shopping for those in isolation.

Volunteers are also reaching out to isolated older and vulnerable people by telephone and social media to support positive mental health. Initiatives like its newsletter, linking residents with appropriate support is reducing the feeling of isolation and vulnerability.

Vaccines now being delivered at primary care hubs across north Cumbria – thanks to volunteers and staff read more here.

Providing advice and information when local residents are needing it most is Citizens Advice Allerdale. It received £10,000 to provide advice, information and support via telephone and email. It is offering support to people needing advice on benefits and housing, household debts, employment advice, financial support for the self-employed and small businesses, as well as supporting people in a domestic abuse situation and advice on relationship breakdowns.

Based in Wigton, Chrysalis provides support to adults with learning disabilities from its building on Longthwaite Road. More than 30 individuals are supported each week to access a wide range of both leisure and educational activities through one-to-one support, group activities and respite.

Due to the social distancing regulations and the need to keep people safe, the charity could no longer bring people together. However, the group received £5,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to cover the costs of additional resources needed to continue to provide services.

Additional IT equipment has enabled the charity to offer online video conference calls with staff and members, and the purchase of a freezer and some food items ensured members had access to adequate food supplies.

Greysouthen Village Hall received £1,250 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund. 70 volunteers have been looking after those who are self-isolating with food packages and support. They have also set up a basic shop within the village hall which is open twice a week for residents .

The village hall committee plan to keep a record of events. Committee secretary Jane Inman and chairman Jenny McCullough came up with the idea of creating a living history of the parish. Jane said: “Years from now we will read and learn about the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. We are all living through this challenging and historic time, as a community we thought it would be amazing to document and have a record by producing a Living History of Greysouthen in 2020.” They have asked villagers to share their experiences, whichever way they prefer, from drawing and poems to photos and words.

Jane Inman said:“There are people here, like us, who do not have family near. They can be quite vulnerable if we don’t support each other. The village hall has become a central point of communication. While we have a long way to go rebuilding all the different events and activities which normally run there, I think we will be a stronger community for it.”

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People have been put at greater risk of self-harm or suicide because of a reduction in mental health services during the coronavirus lockdown.
Together We CIC- Talk received £8,263 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to develop a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) and specific interventions for self-harm behaviours that are emerging as prevalent during the current pandemic.
WRAP – Together’s Keeping Well and Keeping Safe Plan is for those with suicidal thoughts/intent and/ or self harm. The project will provide free support to anyone aged 11 years up.

West Cumbria Carers received a grant award of £3,793 which will be used to purchase laptops and mobile phones to enable its team of support workers to work remotely and adapt its services to meet the current situation and offer the best possible support to unpaid carers.

Sue Whitehead, Chief Officer said:  “Currently we support over 2000 unpaid carers from the age of five throughout Allerdale and Copeland and this equipment will ensure that we can keep in contact with our most vulnerable carers throughout the current crisis.  We will be offering emotional support, information, and be able to signpost and refer carers to local services that they need. Carers can, in usual circumstances be socially isolated  and lack support networks and in the current situation this can be intensified making it all the more important to be able to talk to someone and get information quickly and accurately.

In this time of uncertainty many of our carers are feeling extra vulnerable and  uncertain.  Through our contact we aim to make carers feel better supported and confident.”

The number of people being forced to stay at home during the lockdown has raised fears that there will be more cases of domestic abuse, and that some victims will be either be too afraid to ask for help, or be uncertain if help is available at this time. West Cumbria Domestic Violence received £10,128 to offer a confidential telephone helpline with qualified therapist and trainers for those suffering from abuse. Project Manager, Victoria Pike, 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.

“With the current lockdown measures that are in place, victims may not have accessible support from family, friends and other services they are used to; therefore, it is vital that there is a place for them to turn to. Early intervention or lack of early support can enable or prohibit an individual’s ability to break away from abuse. If the person does decide to talk, whether they have left an abusive relationship or just contemplating it, it is important to have someone to talk too, a friendly ear at the end of the phone to discuss the various options and help them make informed choices to keep themselves and their children as safe as possible. The grant is going to go a long way in  providing immediate support to victims of domestic abuse in West Cumbria.”

One client said: “I don’t know what I would do at the moment without your phone calls, I feel so alone and scared, you are the only person I feel safe to talk to, you understand and believe me and it means everything to me right now”.

Fantastic challenge set up by  1st Wigton Baden-Powell Scouts. Last month Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and leaders from a scouts group have just completed an Everest challenge. During lockdown the group applied for two grants.

£3,000 was awarded from the Cumbria Covid-19 Response fund which enabled the group to buy modelling clay, plaster of Paris, PVA glue and moulds for all 65 beavers.

They then bought compasses and maps for the cubs, gas stoves and canisters for the scouts and wood-burning stoves for the senior scouts.


The Barrow Borough Community Resilience Forum works closely with the Local Resilience Forum and includes representatives from six charities: The Well, Love Barrow Families, Women’s Community Matters, Drop Zone Youth Project, Age UK Barrow and self-harm awareness charity SAFA. It received £74,580 to ensure that all parts of the borough have access to support, advice, and practical help. In addition, organisations with expertise in key areas such as older people, mental health, families and addiction issues will be called on to work together to support those most at risk. Much more needs to be done to support families with children in this time of national crisis. As unemployment rises over the coming weeks and months, many more families will require welfare support to get by. 12,000 children across Cumbria live in poverty and in Barrow, it’s one in three. Free school meals make a huge difference to those on low income, but we know there have been issues with children receiving the vouchers provided to replace the meals they would receive at school. Many more families will need to turn to food banks, which have also been hit by shortages and many are running low on essentials.

Love Barrow families is working with Drop Zone Youth Projects and The Well to deliver a meal each week to families who are most in need.

Rebecca Robson, Senior Officer at Women’s Community Matters, which has joined them in delivering meals and activities to the families they work with, said: “I would like to say a very big thank you to everyone who has donated to Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund. We now have the privilege of being able to share the generosity of all those who donated with those who need it most.  I have seen and heard the comments from some of the families who will benefit, and I can assure you that it means more than we can ever measure.”

Drugs and alcohol rehabilitation support service, The Well, has adapted to offer online support seven days a week. Support includes virtual fitness classes and online meetings to help with Universal Credit, food bank vouchers, meals and support with addiction. Some clients live in rural areas such as Millom and the charity also supports the Egerton Court community now the Hub is closed. Ged Pickersgill, Senior Development Manager at The Well said: “In these unprecedented times, statutory services and the local third sector have come together to assist some of Barrow-in-Furness and South Lakelands most vulnerable individuals. The Well Communities are proud to be a small cog in a much bigger wheel.”

Reaching out to isolated younger people through technology and social media to support positive mental health is important at this crucial time.

Drop Zone Youth Projects in Barrow received £250 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to offer online youth and education activities for its young people who are currently on lock down.

Cath Corkill, Project Manager at Drop Zone Youth Projects, said: “We have 17 young people currently within our education provision who will benefit. We also currently support around 60 young people through our youth work delivery; however, our reach will be more due to our presence on social media.”

One young person stressed that “The team at Drop Zone Youth Projects is more like family than my real family.” This is why it is so important that the Foundation continues to support projects like this so young people have access to the help they need when they need it most.

One young person said: “It has been really difficult.  I struggle with my mental health and since we’ve been in lock down I’ve lost my routine and the ability to see other people, especially my friends, it’s been hard.  I’m worried about school and the amount of time I am going to miss.  It might effect my exams and what I do in the future.  I’m also worried about becoming ill which means I’m scared to go out.  Some of my support has dropped away as nobody is seeing anyone.  Being able to carry on with some learning is the highlight of my day.  I’m very keen to get some qualifications and now we can access to online lessons, I am getting to see people.  I don’t even have to do school work, it just means someone is there to talk if I need it. We can also do fun stuff as well and packs of stuff have been sent home, like art and creating stuff. Everyone seems to be sticking to the rules and we are getting a box of goodies every week alongside my sibling’s free school meals.

Drop Zone staff member said: “Our young people don’t access mainstream education, so it was very important to sustain some form of deliver as the long term impact on them is very worrying.  We were aware that if we didn’t put something together then some young people would possibly disappear off the radar so the face to face online lessons are really good.  Young people are engaging, not as much as previously but it’s good to check in and offer them activities to do.  We also put physical resource packs together to drop off at their homes, so they have fun stuff to do.”

Friends of Bram, based in Barrow in Furness, provides a wide range of support, advice and educational programmes for both children, young people and adults.

The charity received £10,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to provide hot meals to 100 vulnerable people per day, four days per week and additional food hampers.

Dave Morrison, Community Development Worker, said: “A huge thank you to Cumbria Community Foundation for the grant. We can continue to support the most vulnerable and isolated families and individuals with fresh wholesome meals delivered to their door, which not only enables them to eat properly but also reduces their isolation through seeing one of our volunteers’ friendly face.”

Love Barrow Families CIC works with families who suffer from physical and mental health issues, relationship difficulties, drug and alcohol abuse, anti-social behaviour, domestic violence, unemployment and homelessness, all of which can affect emotional and mental wellbeing and is exacerbated by the virus. The charity received £4,000 to enable staff and volunteers to work remotely and to cover costs associated with the food and prescription delivery service.

Trina Robson, Director at Love Barrow Families, said: “This crisis has taken away the place where our families came together, and we are doing our best to continue to reach out to everyone and to put people in touch with each other. We know that it is relationships and love that count, and we are finding as many ways as possible to provide this. One way is through our volunteers providing a home cooked meal for all the families who need it every week and an activity or challenge that families can complete. We are using various means of having fun and staying in touch remotely and the funding will help us to do this. For our families this is a lifeline. It means that they can access the right support, be that psychological or practical, from the right place at the right moment to stay well and keep going through this difficult time.”



Bowness Community Group received £250 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Group to set up a C19 Hub manned by volunteers at the local Kings Arms pub in Bowness-on-Solway. More than a thousand residents live in the area, spread across the parishes of Anthorn, Bowness-on-Solway, Glasson, Port Carlisle and surrounding area.

One in five residents are aged 70 and over or in the high-risk category. All residents have been given details of local volunteers in their own village, plus a central contact telephone numbers and local website address.

Bill Knowles, Trustee Director, of the group, said: “The C19 Hub co-ordinates with the Local Authority and NHS. The Hub has been visited by the police and confirmed as complying with all distancing regulations and controls. Our Parish First Responders team are partnered with the NW Ambulance Services for 999 calls and 3 non-high risk members have volunteered to help the NHS.”

The Hub has guaranteed delivery slots per week from local shops and the butcher’s van calling twice per week. Food, milk, daily papers can be ordered by phone, email or social media and delivered by the named local volunteers.

B.A.T is the Emergency Planning and response group for Brampton. The group received £3,000 from the COVID-19 Response Fund to support the Brampton Emergency Plan and the B.A.T. group. The aim of the group is to increase resilience within the local community before, during and after emergencies, and to link into the County and District Councils’, and emergency services’ emergency response structures if requested.

Angie Findon, BAT, said: “The plan details ways in which the B.A.T. group would respond in an emergency situation. These include interviewing, recruiting and briefing Resilience Marshalls who take on the role and responsibility of checking on residents in their designated areas – normally the
street where they live themselves. The marshals on their rounds try to establish their residents needs and briefly asses how they are coping in general, if their resident is considered a vulnerable and if a resident needs help with shopping or with something else such as prescriptions or information then they are passed to B.A.T. HQ who can arrange all sorts of help and has a network into the neighbouring communities such as Walton, Irthington, Hayton and Lanercost.”

Based out of the Petteril Bank Community Centre, the Carlisle Covid-19 Community Help Group is offering support such as shopping, picking up prescriptions, talking on the phone to help with isolation and signposting to relevant agencies.

The group received £7,896, the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to provide support to vulnerable people in the community. Volunteers are supplementing the work of Carlisle Foodbank and have set up a service which sees parcels of donated fresh and non-perishable food delivered to those in need, all while following social distancing guidance.

Les Tickner, Trustee said: “We have set up a sustainable food hub so we can supply emergency food and other items to the most vulnerable and supply basic deliveries to those who are able to pay but unable to access shops. The food hub has been kitted out fully with PPE, white goods such as fridges, cleaning materials, safe packaging for delivery and signage/markings for social distancing measures.

“We are so pleased to be awarded this grant. This will enable us to continue to provide vital services to the vulnerable, the poor, the homeless and those self-isolating and shielding during these difficult times. We have a strong network of volunteers without whom this support could not be provided.”

The COVID 19 outbreak has resulted in increased need for financial services in the community, with redundancy, furlough and increased reliance on benefits resulting in greater economic stress for people and families.

Helping people during the crisis is Carlisle & District Credit Union, a financial co-operative, promoting savings and offering affordable loans.

The Credit Union received £11,205 to provide a mobile banking app designed to help members manage their credit union accounts ‘on the go’, along with installing protective counter screens.

Amanda Johnston, Credit Union Manager, said: “Our aim is to ensure that everyone in the community has access to high quality and affordable financial services regardless of their economic circumstances. During the crisis, we have been open six days supporting existing and new members financially through this difficult period.

“COVID-19 has seen a significant increase in our online loan applications. Having the e-sign facility supported by the grant, means that none of our members face being excluded from being able to access affordable credit. Many people don’t have access to a landline, computer, laptop, printer or scanner so having a mobile app will allow them to have access to our vital services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

“One of our self-employed members didn’t have access straight away to any income and had to wait until the end of June, so a loan from us helped them get through in the interim. Another member needed support with their rent as they are paid weekly and their employer didn’t pay them until they received funding from the government.

“We are aware that this is ongoing and many will face great hardship in the coming months. We will be there to assist and support them in these unprecedented times.”

Carlisle Mencap received £4,040 to continue support people with learning disabilities and their families remotely during the COVID-19 crisis. Using platforms like Zoom and Facebook, it is running virtual groups to promote emotional resilience. A virtual gym and virtual craft club for members who usually get a chance to meet physically is proving popular. Families can join a virtual coffee morning, where they can talk to staff, ask for advice, including autism specialists, as well as peer support from each other. The project will run over 15 hours a week offering support to various groups at differing times to suit them.

Sheila Gregory, Carlisle Mencap CEO, said: “The present crisis will exacerbate the loneliness and anxiety which is already dominant in the lives of people with a learning disability or autism. They find the situation difficult to understand, especially staying indoors. We are very concerned about physical and mental health during this time. Our families are going into crisis, so its vital we support parents and other family members as well. This funding will help us to keep giving as much support as we can to our community at this time.”

Evidence suggests that people with learning difficulties are at a higher risk of self-harm and self-injury. Carlisle Mencap has received reports of clients self-harming due to lockdown restrictions, and the charity received £6,556 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to offer early-intervention support to help them and their families.

Sheila Gregory, Chief Executive, said: “We are very pleased to receive this funding which will really help to support people with learning disabilities and/or autism at this difficult time. Our staff are working hard to support our members through the crisis, but this can be a very challenging when we are limited in the amount of physical contact we have with people. The funds will enable us to give members and their families one to one support virtually or over the phone to alleviate their anxiety.”

Gateway 4 Women in Carlisle offers support to all women in a safe environment. The social enterprise received £3,000, to support its staff and volunteers deliver services remotely. Gateway 4 Women currently works with over 400 women with a variety of support needs. The grant will benefit around 50 of these women who are our most vulnerable or have been advised to stay at home for 12 weeks.

Vanessa De Castro, Development Manager, said: “Many of the clients who we support are isolated on their own. They have no family support and are struggling to obtain the essentials needed. This is causing increased anxiety for many who struggle with various mental health conditions and further difficulties”.

One client said: “I am finding it hard because we can’t come to Gateway. It is our sanctuary and safety net. I am so glad and thankful for the Facebook group and for the phone calls.”

Others said: “My care coordinator said no more contact for a while”, “Thank goodness I still have you!” “Your texts are what keeps me sane” and “This is my lifeline.”

Cumbria Gateway also received £2,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Group to provide and deliver care packages containing essential food and toiletries to vulnerable women who have self-isolated due to COVID-19.

In rural Cumbria, many households face long journeys to buy food and this is more difficult if families are self-isolating. Volunteers from Gisland Village Hall near Brampton are supporting the local response group, which formed to help those who are isolated during the pandemic. There are no shops in the village or bus route and many residents are older or work long hours on nearby farms.

£500 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund will help volunteers to provide food supplies in addition to local information via a twice-monthly newsletter. Janet Gordon, Chair, said: “The community of Gilsland is spread across the three parishes of Upper Denton, Waterhead and Thirlwall with the village hall at its heart. Some of the outlying properties are in very rural areas having no mobile phone signal and limited broadband, making communication a challenge. The funding we received will help support the community in many ways and the production of a newsletter is a vital asset especially for the elderly and vulnerable self-isolating in their own homes for up to three months.”

Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland received £25,000 from the Pappagallino Fund and £6,596 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to support patients who have a life limiting or life-threatening illness, and their families and carers.

Cath Coates, Fundraiser said: “On behalf of everyone at Hospice at Home, THANK YOU. Cumbria Community Foundation has helped us to keep our service running during this challenging time of the Coronavirus pandemic.  The grants awarded from the Pappagallino Fund and the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund will make a huge difference to our local community who are enduring difficult times.

“This means that we can continue to provide care and support to patients who wish to remain at home at the end stages of life. We are there for people at their most vulnerable and give comfort and reassurance when it is most needed. Our patients have told us that visits can make a significant difference to their lives at this time. They also said they are sad to not be together with family when ill or dying and they are worried about the current situation. They often ask staff how long they think this situation will last. Obviously, no one knows how long this will last, but regardless of the length of this pandemic, our nurses will continue to provide vital care for patients and families”.

Pets mean such a lot to so many people. Pets can be a reason to get up in the morning, and they provide essential companionship. In a time when many people are in isolation and likely experiencing terrible loneliness, Oak Tree Animals’ Charity want to do all it can to protect their vital bond and avoid them having to relinquish their animal; their lifeline.

To help more than 350 people in the Carlisle area, Oak Tree Animals’ Charity received £500 to deliver a three month project to support people who are self-isolating, working proactively to prevent issues of animal abandonment exacerbated by COVID-19. It will provide advice, training and behavioural support over the phone or via video-calling to uphold human-animal relationships for as long as possible. It will also provide up-to-date pet advice and support. Helping to relieve financial pressures for pet owners, it will provide local foodbanks with pet food, and also hold emergency parcels on-site. Its team will be assisting the community response – alongside the Parish Council and local churches, by helping with delivering food, prescriptions and other support and taking pets to the vets and offering to collect and deliver vet prescriptions.

Caroline Johnson, General Manager said: “Thanks to the Cumbria Community Foundation, Oak Tree Animals’ Charity can uphold its role as a lifeline for local community members, helping pets and owners in their time of need. When people may be struggling more than ever before and relying on their animal for companionship, we will do all we can to provide meaningful, practical support and protect this lifeline” .

With 24-hour rolling news and social media, it is impossible to get away from COVID-19. For children, it is especially hard as they are unable to meet with school friends and have less of a virtual network outside their families. If they are already in an abusive family, this can be exacerbated by the pandemic.

PAC Therapy and Counselling in Carlisle, provides counselling and therapy to youngsters who have acute needs brought on by childhood trauma, a family break up, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect. The charity received £10,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to employ a therapist for an additional day a week over 12 months.

Paul Block, Chief Executive, said: ‘PAC Therapy recognises the increased risks to young people of self-harming and suicidal thoughts due to the impact of Covid-19 in our community. To have received this very welcome financial support from the Cumbria Covid-19 response fund allows us to deliver more therapy hours to help those young people move from a desperate situation to a positive and healthy future’.

A grant of £2,785 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to Susan’s Farm will ensure that vulnerable adults and young people, who usually attend the farm on a regular basis, are supported. The money will be used to provide a nutritious meal twice a week and ensure each person receives a welfare call on a weekly basis.

Susan Aglionby, Partnerships Manager and Farmer, said: “We are continuing to keep in touch on the telephone with the teenagers who attend the farm a day each week in normal circumstances, and their one question is: ‘When can I come back to the farm?’

“The meals we are providing are greatly appreciated but most importantly is the contact with a member of the farm team whom they know, and while keeping at crooks length, they can talk first-hand about news of the farm.

“Our most vulnerable members are the first to receive a phone call every day until and we have started to deliver meals, five days a week. Some of the beneficiaries, who are feeling particularly isolated, also ring me. It appears the longer this lockdown goes on, the more isolated they are beginning to feel.”

The Laurie Brewis Trust provides supported learning and leisure opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and mental health issues.

It runs Healthlands day centre, on the outskirts of Rockcliffe, near Carlisle. COVID-19 resulted in its members and their families becoming isolated and as lockdown eases, many are wanting to return to re-establish routines and re-connect with friends. On a normal day, Heathlands would be able to support 35 people per day but due to social distancing that number has decreased to around 20 per day.

£6,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund has contributed to renting the Rockcliffe Community Centre for a period of three months to enable more of its members to benefit from day services, as well as supporting a local facility and ensuring it is there for the future.

Eleanor Farquharson, Systems and Governance Manager, said: “Exclusive use of the community centre will mean that as members return to Heathlands, we will be able to welcome them back with confidence, knowing that despite social distancing measures, we have sufficient space to support people safely throughout the day.”


Many older people in Cumbria are self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic, but charities are expanding their services to meet the needs of these people and those who are  unable to leave their homes because of isolation and poor mobility. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Age UK West Cumbria closed several services in March 2020 due to the age and vulnerability of the client group.  This meant that its clubs, groups, and day services ceased.  The number of phone calls increased due to the anxiety and worry faced by its client group.

Age UK West Cumbria received £10,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to support its COVID-19 Community Helpdesk and Support service. A response team will support queries and requests for help via a dedicated helpline number staffed 8.30am to 4pm weekdays. The team will also provide a befriending service for those feeling lonely and isolated.

The support service will offer a daily phone call for those who have little contact with anyone else and in addition to this, it will deliver food parcels if people who are unable to leave their home.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Jane Mindar, said: “We want to make older people in West Cumbria feel supported as the COVID-19 crisis is very frightening, especially for those who are isolated and lonely. We want to connect people with services in their local area alongside offering telephone befriending to help people feel less isolated and stop this daunting time effecting their mental health.

“This valuable grant ensured we are better able to support some of the most vulnerable people in our community. The coronavirus outbreak has generated a great deal of worry and confusion among older people throughout West Cumbria.

“To help alleviate some of this worry, we recruited two additional volunteers to help us with the shopping services and the telephone befriending and daily check in calls.  Without these volunteers, we would not have had sufficient capacity to introduce the new services so quickly.

“Although this suspension of face-to-face services was imperative to protecting older people’s physical health, we were aware that the social restrictions were likely to have a detrimental effect on individual’s emotional wellbeing. In response, our staff quickly identified other ways in which we could continue to support our client base and volunteers during a time of national pandemic.

“Since the beginning of the outbreak, we have made approximately 1,326 calls to older people across West Cumbria. Between April and the end of July 2020, we have delivered 584 parcels to older people in West Cumbria, via our team of volunteers. The funding  enabled the charity to open two helplines, deliver basic food boxes with free delivery within Allerdale and Copeland and offer telephone befriending and check in calls.  ”

Alice* is 81 and lives alone. Although she had support from her family and a neighbour, she was anxious and scared about the isolation and COVID-19 and confused about the lockdown rules. She was tearful about the whole situation. From 20th March 2020, Alice has been contacted on a weekly basis. During the calls, Age UK West Cumbria formed an action plan for when lockdown is over and help Alice become more integrated and less lonely.

The conversations have been important to Alice: “I look forward to your calls, it’s not family who are busy, it’s not old friends who moan as they are in isolation as well but you and me have a laugh and talk about different things.”

Peter’s wife died during lockdown and his son was unable to visit as he lived in Bournemouth and travel restrictions were in place at the time.

The team at Age UK West Cumbria organised a weekly food parcel delivery and made daily check in calls to support Peter during this difficult time and alleviate his anxiety. Peter was also helped to deal with additional issues in relation to bereavement support.

Yorick found himself without work as the COVID-19 crisis took hold. Self-employed, he lives alone and found himself becoming less active and his mental health in decline.

Yorick started volunteering with Age UK West Cumbria and helps with its shopping service.  Volunteering has given him some structure and contact with other people by delivering food parcels. He is enjoying his volunteering experience and will continue to help Age UK West Cumbria whenever he can even when he is back working in his regular job.

*names have been changed

Copeland Age and Advice Service (CAAS) is a Social Enterprise in West Cumbria that provides information, advice and support to individuals over the age of 55 in relation to financial matters and housing issues  enabling people to continue to live safely and independently, reducing poverty and isolation in the Copeland area.  It provides early intervention support to individuals who, if left unsupported would more likely need to rely on Social Care and NHS services in the future; our main aim therefore is for prevention.

£1,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund is enabling it to adapt its services and work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lesley Amor, Finance Director said: “We have contacted over 400 clients during this crisis. We are ensuring that everyone can access their basic needs such as shopping and medication deliveries through making them aware of and referring to local COVID support groups and the Cumbria County Council emergency support hub. We are also providing information and advice on how individuals can keep themselves safe during this crisis and if clients identify other needs along the way we will look at how best we can meet these needs, either alone or in partnership with other services/groups.

“This crisis that we find ourselves in is concerning for everyone and we want to show that we can adapt to continue to put our clients’ needs first, whatever those needs may be; we want this service to be consistent for the people of Copeland and are continuing to do as much as we can remotely.”

One client said: “I was worried about having enough food and collecting my prescriptions; my daughter was dropping items off for me, but she couldn’t always get here. I feel so much more settled now that I have been put in touch with groups who can help me, and I feel less isolated and more independent; I’m less worried about the future.”

There are a number of initiatives under way around the county to look after friends and neighbours. A new support group has launched in Cleator Moor to assist residents in the town that have to self-isolate due to the pandemic.

Home to Work is part of the local COVID-19 response group and received £5,000 to manage the helpline and requests for support, which are then directed to a team of volunteers. The group is also delivering prescriptions on behalf of the local chemist as well as supporting the local foodbank.

Mirehouse Community Centre received a £4,668 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to ensure residents like Tom, have a hot meal and a chat with the delivery driver while in self-isolation.

Katrina MacEwan, Development Manager, said: “A social distance chat and a hot meal are both very important in these strange times. Tom’s package contained a full roast dinner and gingerbread and custard, all home-made at our cafe, Top Of The Shops, and a volunteer up until 2 in the morning perfecting the gingerbread! The funding has enabled us to serve over 300 people, through a contribution to support the costs of food and fuel for the drivers.”

Mirehouse Residents Group,  received £5850 for food and also for the purchase of children’s activity packs to support people in our community affected by Covid-19.

Charlie McGregor, Treasurer, said ” The very generous grant is supporting people in poverty, on low income, and older and vulnerable people in our community, and this is having a huge impact on their welfare. Thank you.”


Phoenix Enterprise Centre in Cleator Moor delivers a range of services to people who are unemployed and dependant on benefits.

A team of six experienced advisers offer one-to-one support to help residents in Copeland set up an email account, learn new computer based skills to get them writing CVs, as well as ensuring they register and update their Universal Job match accounts to meet DWP obligations and retain any benefits.

£5,600 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund enabled the team to offer this service remotely during the pandemic. Joanne Crowe, Operations Manager, said: “This grant will enable us to invest in technology that allows our team to work more safely and efficiently. In doing this, we can continue to deliver a wide range of services to vulnerable people in the area.”

A West Cumbrian youth group is still operating in spite of the coronavirus outbreak – thanks to virtual sessions being held over video conferencing software.

Supporting the young people in Cleator Moor, Frizington and Moor Row, Phoenix Youth Project received £4,171 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to deliver its virtual youth club.

Paul Rowe, Manager, said “We have been working from home for the past six weeks but using IT equipment purchased over seven years ago. This has been a challenge and everything has taken three times longer. The funding will be spent on new laptops and software to enable us to do this much more efficiently. The team and I are passionate about continuing to provide support and offer youth services to our children and young people during this coronavirus lockdown.

“Young people who are vulnerable or have low resilience or mental issues need us more than ever. Such issues haven’t disappeared, they’ve got much worse. Young people are finding life hard at the moment. They spend a lot of their leisure time, especially teenagers, with their peers. Suddenly, that was banned. We run 16 sessions each week, ranging from discussion sessions on the issues that affect young people, one-to-one drop in, DJing and quiz sessions. Just having that contact with trusted adults makes a big difference to them. Our service gets young people together in a safe space and gives them something to do. There’s only so long a teenager can watch Netflix for.”

Time to Change based in West Cumbria tackles poverty, homelessness and unemployment in West Cumbria at its homeless hostel Calderwood House and more recently at its Women Out West (WOW) centre for women.

The award-winning social enterprise received £10,000 to employ emergency staff to keep the doors of Calderwood House open and make sure its staff who are isolating can receive the support they need. Staff and volunteers will collect and deliver prescriptions and essential food items to clients and provide welfare checks and PPE to its front-line workers.

Rachel Holliday, Founder of TTC said: “It is absolutely vital that we are able to get essential supplies to our most vulnerable clients and ex-clients during this time. This must be a community effort and we cannot expect our local authority to do everything for everyone. Our staff working from home are operating our social media and phone lines. We are still open to offer support. Please get in touch if you need our help.”

Patricia Ann Sharkey, WOW Volunteer said: “I have been isolating for the last five weeks. Rachel’s ongoing support will enable me to isolate for the duration of the Governments Ruling. She not only shops for me, she keeps my spirits uplifted and is in regular contact. She goes far and beyond her call of duty. She is supporting so many during this lockdown, I will always be eternally grateful to her and her organisation.”

Rachel said: “Patricia is a valued volunteer who has supported me during the early stages of Calderwood House and Women Out West. Now she needs our help, its vital we are there for her and others in the same boat. Patricia asked for a rainbow for her window, so my daughter Layla said of course! No problem!”

Last month, South Whitehaven Youth Partnership should have been opening the doors to it new youth provision at both Mirehouse Community Centre and St Peters Parish Hall. However, thanks to £1,038 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund, the charity can now offer youth sessions remotely.

Jacq Cardy, Project Manager, said: “The funds awarded are allowing us to run digital youth club sessions and to set up messaging groups so young people can contact us. We are running quizzes and games in each session while also discussing individual impact on young person’s lives during Covid-19. Responses from young people include that they are missing friends, school, but mostly family members, especially grandparents.”

South Whitehaven Youth Partnership is delivering five online youth club sessions per week and also offers one-to-one support sessions.

West Cumbria Community Action Trust supports the communities of Kells and Woodhouse in Whitehaven. It helps residents come together by providing activities from St Peters Parish Hall.

The outbreak of COVID-19 resulted in the organisation setting up a community action group, supporting local volunteer-run self-help groups. These groups are currently playing a vital role in their communities, including helping to distribute food and medical supplies to vulnerable Copeland residents.

£2,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund will assist the coordination of volunteers.

Mandy Lewthwaite, Trustee for the West Cumbria Community Action Trust, said: “We are delighted to receive financial support from Cumbria Community Foundation which enables us to continue to support the amazing efforts of the volunteers from the Kells, Woodhouse and Greenbank Covid group. We look forward to working closely with the group to continue to provide support for the residents of our fantastic community.”

Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, supporting members’ financial wellbeing has become a central issue for credit unions.

People suffering financial difficulties due to the lockdown can be at risk from high interest doorstep lenders. Credit Union’s works closely with the local authority to stamp out loan sharks and ensure people have access to flexible, affordable and fair lending during this time of uncertainty.

Although Whitehaven, Egremont & District Credit Union has had to cancel all face-to-face appointments, it received £1,190 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to continue supporting its members remotely through this crisis.

Manager, Andrea Dockeray, said: “A huge thank you to Cumbria Community Foundation, from all the directors, staff and volunteers. The funding to allow us to maintain our high level of personal service to our existing and new members in the current crisis.”

The Whitehaven Community Trust runs the Lowther Street homeless hostel for young people aged 16 -24yrs based in Whitehaven town centre.

It received £10,000 to support the staff and young people who have been in self isolation due to one person showing symptoms. Chief Executive, Kerry Maxwell OBE, said: “Managing eight young people with complex needs is hard enough in lockdown but when they are in self isolation, we made a decision to make our young people as comfortable as possible. The grant has provided essential food and entertainment, which has helped us to keep them and the staff safe from infection.”

Sarah* said: “All the staff have been great during my isolation. I have had a breakdown and staff have been there to listen to me and help me through it.”

Steve* said: “During the situation of being in isolation, staff have greatly cared for us by feeding us two meals a day, assuring we have all necessities and providing us with stuff we may need for drinks for example milk , sugar, bread , butter, jam and tea.”

*names changed.


Volunteers are working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic to offer support to those who are self-isolating and do not have a network of family, friends or neighbours to help them.

WittWoo PhotpgraphyResidents in Appleby will receive help from the Appleby Emergency Response Group after it received £9,030 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund. The support currently includes organising shopping deliveries, collecting prescriptions, and supporting the local convenience store, ensuring deliveries are on the shelves as soon as possible.

Appleby Emergency Response Group Co-ordinator, Caroline Dodgeon, said: “We are dealing with a large increase in the number of people who wish to volunteer. We have set up a network of Street Wardens and cards offering help have been distributed to all properties in the town.”

Alston Moor Emergency Response Group have set up a local support service run by volunteers for residents in the rural area of Alston Moor. The group received £4,400 to offer services such as prescription delivery to patients who are in the ‘high risk group’. The group have also set up a local helpline, phone buddying, a food delivery service working with local businesses and a newsletter to keep local residents informed.

Claire Driver, lead coordinator, said: “We are hugely grateful for this money which allows us to continue to reach those most in need at this challenging time. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit and neighbourliness shown by our volunteers and the wider community, and Alston Moor continues to be a shining example of what can be achieved when we all pull together.”

The impact of COVID-19 is affecting not just people’s incomes but also their health. As well as practical support, it’s important that people have sufficient emotional support and reach out to their networks.

Carlisle Eden Mind received £10,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Respose Fund to extend its MindLine service. Tara Quinn, Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are delighted to be awarded this funding, which will help continue our daytime MindLine service. We help over 2,000 people per year through MindLine and now, more than ever, we will aim to reach people who need a listening ear, those more at risk and those at risk of suicide. We are passionate about our services at Carlisle Eden Mind and this fundind will help us to continue delivery of an established and much needed helpline, throughout Cumbria.”

£886 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund will help Crosby Ravensworth Community Support Network in a joint venture between the parish council, village church, first responders and the communities Health and Wellbeing group.

The parish is very remote. The nearest shop is four miles away and multiple GP surgeries are located anywhere between 4 to 15 miles away.

There are around 250 households in the parish with 70 of them housing older and vulnerable people and those who are shielding. Around 20 volunteers are supporting up to six households each. They arrange shopping, essential supplies such as prescriptions, postage and regular telephone calls for a friendly chat and to ensure residents are keeping well.

David Graham, Chair, said: “The community has always been self-supporting and reliant with a fantastic ‘can do’ attitude. The volunteers are freely giving an enormous amount of their time, furthering the cohesion in our community and ensuring help is available at this very difficult time. The grant awarded by Cumbria Community Foundation is fantastic, allowing some re-imbursement of printing, telephone and fuel costs and has been warmly received by the community.”

Essential advice and emotional support are being offered remotely by Eden Carers with the support of £1,684. The charity, which supports 800 carers across the Eden district, is supporting the NHS via the hospital discharge service and needed additional IT equipment to support this.

Dani Leslie, Chief Officer, said: “As COVID-19 is present in acute hospitals, it is very important that those patients who have health issues that are not related to the virus and who are not virus positive leave the hospital as soon as possible.”

The charity will be contacting discharged patients, phoning them once a day for five days to ensure they are supported, and any welfare needs are addressed.


In most rural communities across Cumbria, the population is older than the national average, putting a higher percentage of the community at risk of COVID-19. This is the case across the Northern Fells region.

Toby and volunteer Jess Richardson

The Northern Fells Group received £2,729 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to expand its Lend a Hand service in response to the huge number of people self-isolating. The charity has delivered leaflets, recruited an additional 70 volunteers to pick up shopping and prescriptions, provide dog walking and help with its telephone befriending scheme.

Northern Fells Group Fundraising Co-ordinator, Libby Graham said: “The response has been overwhelming and we are inundated with requests for help – particularly from the most vulnerable older residents in our catchment area.”

Emily Bauer, Volunteer, said: “I have felt that volunteering during lockdown has allowed me to not only provide practical help for those who need it but also maintain a connection with the community in what can feel like a disconnected and isolated time. It has enabled me to meet people (from a distance) that I otherwise would not have met which has brought both enjoyment and a heightened awareness of the difficulty that many are currently living in. To alleviate a small amount of this burden allows me to support my area and contribute to the safety of those within it”.

Volunteers Emily and Leah have been helping out. Emily said: “Leah has based her picture on the volunteering work that the Northern Fells Group does in our local community. They help the vulnerable and elderly with all sorts of help. Delivering shopping, collecting prescriptions and lots of other ways to help protect people from Corona virus. Gillian Skillicorn is a village agent for them and has signed us as volunteers if people need help. We have being walking Anne’s dog,  baking and delivering food to a lady in the community.”

Penrith Mountain Rescue Team work around the clock to help anyone who gets into difficulty on the fells.

Penrith Mountain Rescue Team is made up of volunteers. Without the support of the community they would not be able to operate.

£600 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund will  help to provide them with personal protective wear while out on rescue missions. This vital money will help Penrith MRT keep themselves safe while helping those who are in need.

A spokesman for the team said: “This will allow the team to purchase Virustatic face shields which will provide vital personal protective equipment (PPE) to our team members on callouts.”

The specialist masks offer a unique antiviral protein coating, that is scientifically proven against the virus that causes Covid-19. Created by British scientists, approved by UK biochemists and independent laboratory tested at the University of Siena which found it inhibits SARS-CoV-2, the strain behind the current pandemic.

St Patrick’s Church in Patterdale received £1,000 to support vulnerable, isolated people in the area by working with the local response group.

The Venerable Morris Rodham Priest-in-Charge of St Patrick’s Church, Patterdale, said: ‘We are extremely grateful for this grant, which will help alleviate people’s needs in this rural, tourism dependent, community.  This grant will really help our attempts, working in partnership with the Parish Council, to make sure every vulnerable person is cared for appropriately, and will also help our newly established local foodbank. We also really value the fact that the Cumbria Community Foundation values and supports smaller charities ran by local people, who know what is going on locally on the ground, and can respond to the particular circumstances of local need quickly and efficiently.”

South Lakeland

As the COVID-19 crisis developed and it became impossible for the team Age UK South Lakeland to continue to deliver its core services, it became very clear that a whole new range of services and support would urgently be required.

A grant for £15,000 the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund will support a new range of services. Older people are particularly vulnerable to Coronavirus. Along with having isolation and mobility challenges, older people often have a weaker immune system and are also more likely to have conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or kidney disease, which weaken their body’s ability to fight infectious diseases. In South Lakeland, over a quarter of residents are aged over 65. The Fund has helped organisations such as Age UK South Lakeland to offer a variety of emergency services including telephone shopping and befriending, and a prescription collection and hospital transport service.

Hugh Tomlinson, Chief Executive Officer Age UK South Lakeland said: “Many of our older clients are frightened, alone and have no support networks and the support that has been previously available is often in the vulnerable groups also. Here at Age UK South Lakeland we have completely changed the shape of our service offer to support the critical and practical needs of the older people of South Lakeland. We have also coordinated with other charities and supported them to provide coverage across the whole district of South Lakeland.

“Previously, the majority of our operating costs has been funded by our retail operation but the C19 crisis has put paid to that revenue stream. We do have some reserves, but they will only last for a very short time. The Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund has allowed us to worry a little less about finding the funding to do this vital work and concentrate on what is important: supporting the most vulnerable in South Lakeland.”

Mrs Wilson, who has benefited from the new shopping delivery service, said: “Thank you so much for your help. I am at home by myself and have no family around to help. My daughter usually helps me, but she is having to self-isolate herself. I was starting to get so frightened about getting shopping and couldn’t seem to find anybody else who could help me. Someone told me to ring Age UK South Lakeland and I am so glad I did. They have taken a whole lot of worry off my mind. I am so relieved to find someone who can help.”

Hugh Tomlinson, Chief Officer, said: “With the extension of the current restrictions, we expect the need for services such as the befriending scheme to continue to rise. We should be under no illusion that the level of help required by these vulnerable groups will not end with any relaxation of the current restrictions and many will require support well beyond the lifting of social isolation measures.

At Age UK South Lakeland, we have taken the decision to continue to deliver as full a service as possible and have remained open throughout this difficult period. This decision was not easy because all our shops have had to close at this time, significantly reducing our income. However, we are here and ready to provide that support and deliver the services needed. The funding received from Cumbria Community Foundation will help us to do that.”

£10,416 will support Ambleside Parish Centre’s regular activities with a community support service for old people and vulnerable families. This includes a new hot lunch home delivery, food share, food bank, book/puzzle swap, and regular newsletter outlining support and services in the area .

Caroline Gunning Ambleside Parish Centre Manager said: “Over the last week we supported over 200 adults plus their children and we have over ninety volunteers supporting this work.

“The Parish Centre has ever since its establishment in 2006 been a community hub, it’s home to a huge variety of groups providing invaluable services and resources to the whole community, acting as a family drop in centre, a youth club, the local food bank hub, and a social centre where a variety of groups meet to tackle issues such as bereavement and rural isolation.

“Now more than ever it is a resource that is coming into its own providing much needed support to the residents of Ambleside and its surrounding communities. ”

Read a related article here.

Bay Trust Radio, run by volunteers, received £885 towards IT equipment to enable remote working and continue providing a service for people in hospital.

John Williamson, President and Station Manager, said: “This will enable our charity to purchase laptops and enable  volunteers to broadcast from their homes during this pandemic.

“It will help us reach many more hospital radio listeners who are not receiving visitors at this time and also and a morale boost for NHS staff who can listen in to our radio station, giving all listeners pleasure in being entertained and informed at this critical time.”

Birchall Trust received £2,168 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to put its staff and volunteers through an online training programme so they can continue to offer counselling and therapy to survivors of rape and sexual abuse in South Cumbria and North Lancashire.

Chief Executive Officer, Karen Greenhow, said: “The training will ensure that all our counsellors and support staff are operating safely. The training will enable our staff to continue to provide the best quality service that we can, providing a vital lifeline to our clients during these challenging times.”

Carers are frequently isolated due to the demands of their caring role and this is only intensified by the social distancing imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carer Support South Lakes is an independent, local charity and network partner of Carers Trust. It provides a range of services to support and enhance the lives of unpaid carers of all ages throughout South Lakeland.

£3,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund will help with IT equipment, to enable the charity to upgrade its current IT systems so staff and volunteers have full remote access. The extra equipment will also enable the charity to provide appropriate support online and provide additional counselling support to its carers and members of staff. Over the next 12 weeks, the charity will offer counselling over the phone to its clients through a network of volunteer counsellors, as well as to members of staff who are supporting carers in challenging situations.

Ford Park Community Group is working with Ulverston Self-Isolation Group to help the most vulnerable members of its community. The commercial kitchen and premises will be used to prepare ‘ready meals’ and hot food. The group received £5,000 to support those who are self-isolating and those who have lost an immediate family member and are struggling to cope and care for themselves during initial period of grief and isolation. At least twice a week, a group of volunteers in Ulverston will prepare and distribute the food to residents who are most vulnerable at this time. Jill Salmon, CEO at Ford Park Community Group, said: “Ulverston Self-Isolation group and its volunteers are leading efforts to support the community during this very challenging period. Using our kitchen and premises, we will work with Ulverston Self-Isolation Group to prepare and deliver meals for those most in need of support.”

Members of the Kendal’s Gateway Church have undergone specialised training from UK charity Christians Against Poverty. Thanks to this training and a grant from Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund they are offering free sessions aimed at helping residents keep on top of their finances amid the economic pressures and strains of Covid-19.

Over the past six months, church leaders in Kendal have been discussing about the possibility of restarting the town’s CAP debt centre to support those in financial trouble. When it was up and running, the centre helped 77 families go debt-free over the course of ten years.

After identifying particular needs within the South Lakes and with additional funding received through CCF, a three-week-long online CAP Money Course will be launched on Monday 22nd June.

Organisers say these 60-90 minute-long sessions are designed to provide participants with tools and skills to properly budget, plan for the future and manage debt.

Money coach Samantha Vyner Brooks, who will be co-leading the sessions called the CAP Money course, said: “With households feeling the squeeze on their disposable income, we’ve all got to get a bit more savvy about our money to get through these tough times.

“If you know how to save and budget effectively, it can have a hugely positive impact on the whole family. We hope that we can help people, quietly and confidentially, take control rather than relying on guess work so they can plan for the future and weather the storm.”

Kendal Community Emergency Planning Group (KCEPG) received £5,896 to coordinate volunteers who are supporting vulnerable people who are shielding or in self-isolation.

Hazel Belshaw, Coordinator, KCEPG  said: “We cannot thank Cumbria Community Foundation enough for the generous donation. This money is going to help our group continue with the essential work we have been doing in helping residents throughout Kendal and some of the outlying villages who have found themselves needing to self isolate.”

Kendal’s response to COVID-19 has been incredible. Back in March, Kendal Community Emergency Planning Group (KCEPG) and Kendal Integrated Care Community (KICC) joined forces to create Kendal Self Isolation Support Group and recruited over 180 volunteers.

Kendal Community Emergency Planning (KCEPG) was formed in 2016 to work with the community to provide information and assistance in the event of an emergency. Funded by Cumbria Community Foundation and Kendal Town Council, the focus has been on flooding following on from Storm Desmond in 2015.

The community emergency plan for the town also focuses on other emergencies, so when the Coronavirus outbreak began, the group was able to use its resources and contacts to assist those in need.

KICC identified the most vulnerable people in the community and volunteers delivered ‘request for help’ cards to those most in need. Along with requests received from the card deliveries, volunteers have also been helping people who got in touch via Cumbria County Council’s helpline. The helpline was set up to help those who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19 and who do not have support available from friends, family or neighbours. In May alone, the volunteers helped over 200 residents with shopping, prescription collections, dog walking, posting mail, friendly phone calls and even moving furniture. They also delivered 2,000 wellbeing books to help people look after themselves during lockdown.

Hazel Belshaw, Coordinator for KCEPG said: “Even though the restrictions for people who are classed as high risk are being lifted, we realise that many people will still feel nervous about going out, especially to busy places, so we want to ensure that they can get in touch with us and our volunteers will be happy to help.”

£1,000 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund is enabling local charity, Kendal Windows on Art (KWoA), to set up and run a regular ‘Chit Chat’ phone service for the visually impaired craft group. This is in response to the COVID-19 virus restrictions, which means that this vulnerable group cannot meet for their usual regular face-to-face sessions.

The VIP Craft Group sessions, supported by KWoA, are usually based at the Castle Street Community Centre. In addition to visual impairment, many of the members have a range of additional needs due to complex health issues.

Much of the charity’s work with this group is to reduce social isolation and all the members enjoy and benefit from meeting each other regularly. They often comment that the group is ‘like a family’ as many live alone.

The new ‘Chit Chat’ phone service will maintain regular contact with the members, adapting the regular face-to-face sessions with a series of phone chats to talk about how everyone is feeling and share news across the group. One group member said, “Please tell everyone to take care and look after themselves,” whilst others wanted to share how they had been coping with the rest of the group.

Nicola Smith, Trustee, said: “This funding is helping us to keep this friendly group for the visually impaired stay connected, with regular opportunities to have a chat on the phone and exchange messages with the rest of the group. Members are pleased to be able to enjoy a chat on the phone and share news at this challenging time, especially for those who live alone. One lady summed this up simply when she said, ‘How lovely it is for you to call!'”

Supporting around 150 people, Manna House in Kendal received £1,878 to meet the emotional needs of people who are at risk of becoming homeless or vulnerably housed in South Lakeland.

Staff and volunteers are supporting clients who are feeling lonely, frightened, insecure or concerned about food, medicine, housing or benefits.

Andrea Aldridge, Chief Officer said: “It means a lot to Manna House staff to be able to ring out and answer the phone to reach those people we are used to seeing regularly who struggle under ‘normal’ circumstances and for whom isolation, anxiety and depression can happen all too easily. This grant will double our capacity to keep in touch with people, deliver emotional and mental health support and coordinate efficiently with partners distributing food parcels. It enables Manna House to adapt and work remotely in extraordinary circumstances.”

Sandylands Residents Association is tackling food hunger for many residents across Kendal. A member of FareShare, the group benefits from a weekly supply of fresh food and store cupboard staples, which are then distributed to families on low-income.

As well as receiving donations from FareShare, the group also works closely with local supermarkets and other charities. £350 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund is paying for the additional fuel costs that volunteers incur when they collect the donated groceries from various locations across South Lakeland and deliver food parcels to people who are self-isolating.

Assistant Chair of the group, Leone Edwards, said: “We can make up to four collections a day, seven days a week, which is using a lot of resources. We used to cover the cost ourselves but this is becoming difficult for us. We are also delivering food which is something we have never done before, but with so many self-isolating we made the decision to deliver to those who were stuck indoors with nothing.”

Many people are feeling even more socially isolated due to the restrictions in place. With Singing In Mind, based in South Lakeland, would normally provide an opportunity once a week for people to meet up and participate in singing and musical activities.

These sessions are for anyone who has developed a neurodegenerative condition such as Motor Neurone Disease, Dementia, Stroke, M.S or Parkinson’s disease. With Singing in Mind received £855 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to run the weekly sessions remotely via Zoom.

Eddie Harrison, Secretary, said: “We have been unable to meet normally, so to try and encourage some of our clients and their carers to join us on a weekly basis, we introduced Zoom meetings. Our members have each received a folder containing songs to use during the meeting.

“Our facilitator, who runs the meeting, encourages as many actions as possible while singing. It’s interesting to see the way most of our members join in. They all seem to enjoy it. The feedback from carers and families is very encouraging and we are told that most look forward to the meeting. One wife said she has never seen her husband join in so much.”

The volunteer-led ‘Waste into Wellbeing’ project ensures that waste from local shops and supermarkets is turned into nourishing meals or is distributed to areas of greatest need. Run by South Lakes Action on Climate Change Towards Transition (SLACC), it works in partnership with the Kendal People’s Café and Food Hub on Stricklandgate.

The project received £4,000 to support the recruitment and training of additional volunteers and coordinating food donations. Last week, 120 food bags were distributed through three locations in Kendal and the charity states that demand outstrips supply.

Trustee of South Lakes Action on Climate Change, which is the parent charity of Kendal People’s Café and Waste into Wellbeing, Chris Rowley, said: “This is wonderful news for us as it will enable us to cope with the  enormous demand for food coming from a variety of sources. We would like to thank the generosity and support of the many among the local food retailers and from our volunteers, who are currently working hard to expand our operation.”

St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston received £10,000 to help support the adaptation and enhancement of services in response to Covid-19.

Working alongside NHS and community based colleagues, St Mary’s Hospice has increased support available through their Hospice at Home service. It is delivering training in end of life care to external health professionals, supporting  palliative care colleagues in Furness General Hospital and responding to increasing demand for Family and Bereavement Support Services.

Alison Alger, Head of Fundraising, said: “These are incredibly challenging times for everyone. Now more than ever it is important that we are here for the most vulnerable in our community.  Due to the impact of Covid-19, calls to our Family and Bereavement Support Service are up 40%, at a time when we like so many charities have been hit by a dramatic loss of income.

“We are extremely grateful to Cumbria Community Foundation for this award, it will help us ensure we can continue to respond to and be there for our community when they need us most.”

Tigerlily Trust, based in South Cumbria, supports families who have experienced baby loss. The charity received £2,926 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund to produce 500 remembrance boxes to be given to people who have lost loved ones due to coronavirus.

Valerie Isherwoood, Trustee, said: “We are also hugely grateful to everyone who has donated to the fund. We can now begin production of the remembrance boxes and start donating these to our hospitals, hospices and care homes in South Cumbria. They will be given to the families of loved ones who tragically cannot be by their loved one’s side at their time of passing due to the restrictions in place during the coronavirus pandemic. This crisis is denying so many people contact and connection with those they love at the most crucial time. We are working hard to give comfort and compassionate support at this heart-breaking time.”

Ulverston Mind is reaching out to isolated people to encourage positive mental health with the support of £1,362 from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund.

The charity anticipates that the ongoing crisis will result in a deterioration of mental health for a significant number of people, some of whom will have experienced a drastic loss of income with associated anxiety and stress. The funding will provide online and telephone counselling through its one-to-one ‘listening ear’ support service to people, who until the pandemic, were attending a weekly peer group.

Trustee, Elizabeth Jones, said: “Like many other individuals and organisations, Ulverston Mind is finding new ways of helping and keeping in touch with those in need of support in these very challenging days. Social isolation can be particularly difficult for people already experiencing mental health issues. The grant from the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund will help us to maintain our regular mental health support in our community and to reach out to those whose mental health has been affected by the crisis while our premises are closed.”