Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund

1. Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund
The Cumbria Covid-19 Response Fund was launched on the 17th March 2020 with a donation from Cumbria Community Foundation of £100,000. Our target is to raise £3,000,000 to continue supporting the most vulnerable and isolated members of our communities through the coronavirus crisis.

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have so far raised: £2,081,338

Donors include: BAE, Booths, CCL Secure Ltd, Clark Foundation, Copeland Community Fund, Co-op, Francis C Scott Charitable Trust, Frieda Scott Charitable Trust, Iggesund Paperboard, Lakeland Limited, Sir John Fisher Foundation, The Roselands Trust, many individuals, families and businesses.

We worked closely with the National Emergencies Trust, who raised funds nationally through the Coronovirus Fundraising Appeal. We have to date received £454,686 and a further £310,942 from DCMS, which has been distributed through the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund.

You can donate by: cheque, telephone or online

2. Cumbria’s Need for Support
Cumbria’s first cases of COVID-19 were identified on 3rd March. This means that it was inevitable that Cumbria was slightly ahead of the pattern being seen in the rest of the country.

In Cumbria, 64,725(1) coronavirus cases and 1,541(2) deaths have been confirmed to 20th October 2021. However, the actual number of people with respiratory infections in the county is estimated to be much greater. 6,945 people in Cumbria are classed as clinically vulnerable and were asked to shield. The average age of the population in Cumbria is older than most other parts of the country, and therefore will see more positive cases due to COVID-19 affecting elderly people more significantly than other age groups. Many hundreds of vulnerable people (including those over 70 years) and people with underlying health issues have been requested to self-isolate. People have also been asked to ‘stay at home’ to help delay the spread of coronavirus and to ease the pressure on already stretched health services.

Cumbria Police, supported by Cumbria County Council, is leading a multi-agency response to the pandemic. A Cumbria-wide Community Resilience Group, of which Cumbria Community Foundation is a member, was formed to support the work of the Cumbria Strategic Coordinating Group. Six district-led Community Resilience Groups, each supported by a Cumbria Community Foundation representative, were established to coordinate the community response at a local level.

Immediate community needs: There is widespread community and voluntary sector support for the response to COVID-19 across Cumbria with the addition of more than 300 informal support groups, including neighbourhood WhatsApp groups and community Facebook groups offering neighbourly support to one another during the outbreak. These complement established groups such as Citizens Advice, Age UK and Food Banks. The priority of the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund has been to support groups that are providing immediate support to vulnerable and older people who are shielding, of which there are 14,571 in Cumbria or those who are self-isolating.

The immediate needs of these organisations(4), include funding for additional staff and volunteer costs, additional volunteer recruitment and coordination, IT and digital equipment to facilitate remote working and developing new methods to support vulnerable service users. Demand for their services is expected to grow significantly over the next 12 weeks.

Funding is also required to address emerging needs, such as support for mental health and emotional wellbeing services and for particular rural issues e.g. farming communities.

Future recovery and sustainability needs: Covid-19 is affecting all aspects of people’s lives, financially, emotionally as well as people’s health. Cumbria’s residents are supported by the work of more than 6,000 charitable organisations, which deliver key services and support local communities.  Initial findings of an online survey(3) undertaken by the Cumbria Community Resilience Group, in partnership with Cumbria CVS and Cumbria Community Foundation, has shown how severely impacted these groups have been by the pandemic. Of the 214 respondents:
• Over 50% state that they support vulnerable groups
• 99% rely on the support of volunteers
• 66% have no business continuity/resilience plan
• 48% have no or less than 6 months reserves, 22% only have 6-12 months reserves
• 23% have had to close services and 35% report a decrease in service use.

Their priorities for any emergency funding are: 42% pay critical bills, 37% retain existing staff, 28% support for new ways of working, 22% support for clients and 16% support for training new volunteers.

3. Grant Making
The Cumbria Covid-19 Response Fund supports local activities that are helping communities affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It offers local charitable and community organisations funding to support emerging challenges faced within Cumbrian communities as a result of the continuing threat of coronavirus.

The focus of the Fund will continue to evolve in line with the need and help required. Types of activity the Fund has prioritised:
• providing groceries, household essentials and delivery of medicines to vulnerable people who are self-isolating
• coordination of volunteers and charitable efforts to support vulnerable people who are self-isolating
• direct and immediate practical support for vulnerable groups
• supporting vulnerable and isolated people to return home from the hospital
• reaching out to isolated older and vulnerable people by telephone and social media to support positive mental health.
• initiatives to reduce isolation and vulnerability
• advice and guidance and emotional, mental health and bereavement support
• enabling charitable groups to work remotely and adapting services

We are encouraging all groups to coordinate their work through their District Community Resilience Group and to register volunteer support via:, which has over 800 volunteers registered.

Grants awarded: we have so far awarded £3,130,647 from various funds within the Foundation to 211 organisations that are responding to the pandemic. Some organisations have received multiple grants. Applications were considered initially every week and then every fortnight.

Area Amount
Allerdale £512,530
Barrow £428,424
Carlisle £490,213
Copeland £294,315
Eden £185,711
South Lakeland £566,595
Countywide £495,238
Outside Cumbria* £157,620

*Some projects benefit residents in both Cumbria and outside the county. These are donor-directed.

COVID weekly report graphs

Information sources:
(3) Feedback from charitable organisations and community groups; Cumbria Community Resilience Group online survey, March 2020

Between March and September 2020, our Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund raised more than £1.7m. More than £1m had been spent from the fund, plus another £364,000 from re-purposed funds. More than 58,000 people had been helped.

In our six month Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund impact report, we give an insight into the lockdown period in Cumbria, outline our work and priorities for the next 12 months and tell the stories of some of the groups that received funding and how it helped them.