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 a minimum of £1,000,000 to support 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: £927,518.50

Donors include: BAE, Copeland Community Fund, Francis C Scott Charitable Trust, Frieda Scott Charitable Trust, Sir John Fisher Foundation, The Roselands Trust, many individuals, families and businesses.

We are working closely with the National Emergencies Trust, who in partnership with British Red Cross, are raising funds nationally through the Coronovirus Fundraising Appeal. We have to date received £50,000 to distribute through our Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund.

You can donate by: cheque, telephone or online www.cumbriafoundation.org/support-the-fund/

2. Cumbria’s Need for Support
Cumbria’s first cases of COVID-19 were identified on 3rd March. This means that it is inevitable that Cumbria is slightly ahead of the pattern being seen in the country. It is also possible that the epidemic in Cumbria will peak earlier than elsewhere.

In Cumbria, 1,278(1) coronavirus cases and 71(2) deaths have been confirmed to 10th April. However, the actual number or people with the respiratory infection in the county is estimated to be much greater as only those in hospital are being tested. 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, are leading a multi-agency response to the pandemic. A Cumbria-wide Community Resilience Group, of which Cumbria Community Foundation is a member, has been 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, have been established to coordinate the community response at a local level.

Our challenge is how best to support those who are most vulnerable and isolated in our communities. We are carefully monitoring all relevant statistics to get a better understanding of the pattern of the epidemic in Cumbria, which is still at an early stage.

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 60 informal support groups, including neighbourhood WhatsApp groups and community Facebook groups offering neighbourly support to one another during the outbreak. These compliment established groups such as Citizens Advice, Age UK and Food Banks. The priority of the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund is to support groups who are providing immediate support to vulnerable and older people who are shielding, of which there are 700 in Cumbria, or those who are self-isolating.

The immediate needs of these organisations(3), 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 will also be 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 aims to support 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 local communities as a result of the continuing threat of coronavirus.

This is a rapidly developing situation, and as a result, the focus of the Fund will continue to evolve in line with need and help required. Types of activity the Fund will prioritise:
• providing groceries, household essentials and delivery of medicines to vulnerable people who are self-isolating
• coordination of volunteers and charitable effort 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 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: www.supportcumbria.org.uk, which has over 800 volunteers registered.

Grants awarded: we have so far awarded £222,869 to 51 groups. We are making grant awards weekly.

Area Amount
Allerdale £34,045
Barrow £13,265
Carlisle £40,118
Copeland £37,960
Eden £25,068
South Lakeland £35,471
Countywide £36,942

4. How to apply
Groups can apply online via:  www.cumbriafoundation.org/fund/covid19-response-fund
Cumbria CVS will help groups with their funding applications. Please contact them by: email [email protected] or call 01768 800350.

Contact details: Cumbria Community Foundation, Dovenby Hall, Dovenby, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 0PN.  Email [email protected] Tel: 01900 825760. Registered Charity No. 1075120

Information sources:
(1) Public Health England
(2) Cumbria County Council: Public Health
(3) Feedback from charitable organisations and community groups; Cumbria Community Resilience Group online survey, March 2020