Grants totalling more than £64,000 to support local communities in their response to COVID-19 have been approved by Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils.
The Emerging Needs Grant, set up earlier this month, allows both new and existing groups to apply for funding of up to £2,500 to cover increased costs incurred as a result of the Coronavirus (Covid-19). These costs include general running costs, ongoing staff costs, volunteer expenses, utility bills and the purchasing of food or other consumables.
A straightforward application process has enabled 62 community groups across both districts to apply for the grant, with this figure set to increase over coming weeks. The councils’ Communities Team, bolstered by the redeployment of other council officers, has worked around the clock to respond to over half of applicants so far – helping to ease the challenges faced by residents during the crisis.
As a result of this over £48,000 of funding has been paid out during the past month to groups in Babergh and Mid Suffolk, who are playing a key role in protecting vulnerable residents and helping communities remain resilient during the COVID-19 outbreak. Another £16,000 of grants are currently at offer stage and will be paid shortly.
Included within these figures is over £15,000 of funding for local foodbanks, with groups in Hadleigh, Bildeston, Stowmarket, Battisford and Debenham amongst those in receipt of grants to enable their vital work to continue.
Founder and co-ordinator of Bildeston Foodbank Shaun Moffat said: “We wanted to create a non-judgemental and strictly confidential facility to lighten the burden on individuals and families who are feeling the financial effects of this crisis. The funding from Babergh District Council will allow this vital work to continue.”
Other groups to benefit from the Emerging Needs Grant include The Bridge Project and Aspect Living who deliver meals on wheels to self-isolating residents; the Green Light Trust and Beyond the Wall groups which offer mental health support at this uncertain time; and numerous parish councils providing outreach services to those in need.
Gina Saunders, employee of grant recipient Suffolk Accident Rescue Service said: “Our volunteer clinicians are now operating in an extremely challenging environment due to the virus and we are doing our best to continue to reach critically ill and injured patients. We are really grateful for the extra support from Mid Suffolk District Council, this will make a big difference.”
Derek Davis, Cabinet Member for Communities for Babergh District Council, said: “We recognise it’s more important than ever to provide support to our residents who are experiencing difficulties. Our Emerging Needs Grant ensures financial help is available quickly and easily for those who need it most.”
Julie Flatman, Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing for Mid Suffolk District Council, added: “I am delighted that groups and organisations are pulling together to relieve the financial hardship of residents, or to assist the vulnerable who are self-isolating at home. This grant scheme has allowed for their hard work to continue, providing comfort at this uncertain time.”
Community officers will continue to work closely with district councillors, towns and parishes and community groups to ensure financial support is available and directed to meet needs as they emerge within communities.