Communities have received more than £100,000 in vital funding from Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils to help them to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both councils acknowledge the key role of community groups, along with town and parish councils, in easing the challenges faced by residents at this time. In recognition of this and the financial hardships arising from the pandemic, a new Covid-19 Emerging Needs Grant was set up last month, ensuring much-needed funding could be provided to new and existing groups across both districts.
Grants of up to £2,500 can be applied for to cover increased costs incurred as a result of the coronavirus. The grant has a straightforward applications process, allowing applicants to receive funding within weeks and resulting in almost 80 applications being submitted to date. This figure is set to increase, with grants continuing to be made available.
The councils’ grants team has responded to 98% of applicants so far and grants totalling more than £101,250 have already been approved. Included within this figure is over £15,000 of funding for local foodbanks. Grants have also been offered to organisations providing meals on wheels, community information services and mental health outreach programmes.
Grant recipient Mencap said: “This grant will ensure that we will be able to provide the helpline service in Babergh and Mid Suffolk to people with a learning disability and their families and carers. In this challenging and unprecedented time, the impact of this will be vital.”
The crucial work of community groups has been complemented by the Home, But Not Alone service, set up the county-wide Collaborative Communities Board – providing emergency assistance by linking TRIBE volunteers to vulnerable residents with care needs or loneliness. Since its launch at the end of March, the helpline has received over 8,500 calls.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have managed referrals for its districts, including the distribution of vital medication and urgent requests for food.
One caller said: “A lady very kindly gave me her direct line number and arranged an emergency food parcel. Although we’d only spoken in the afternoon, the food parcel arrived by 6pm that night, which was absolutely marvellous.”
This invaluable support continuing, as the virus and its aftermath remains, is a priority for both councils. Plans are being put in place to cement the community groups and good neighbour schemes created in response to Covid-19, with localities officers from the councils’ communities team aiding with this.
Derek Davis, Cabinet Member for Communities for Babergh District Council, said: “I’d like to thank communities in Babergh who have demonstrated immense strength and resilience at a time of national emergency. They are doing an amazing job and we will continue to do all we can to support their efforts.”
Julie Flatman, Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing for Mid Suffolk District Council, added: “I am pleased our grants have already made a real difference to the communities pulling together in response to Covid-19. Although government restrictions are starting to ease, the virus will be with us for some time and protecting our most vulnerable residents remains a priority.”