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Coronavirus crisis fund in Suffolk raises nearly £1million in a month

PUBLISHED: 06:00 20 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:11 20 April 2020

The FareShare East Anglia team of volunteers with a donation of food from the Vestey Food Group for Suffolk's food banks  Picture: FareShare

The FareShare East Anglia team of volunteers with a donation of food from the Vestey Food Group for Suffolk's food banks Picture: FareShare

Archant

The emergency fund supporting Suffolk’s community response to the Covid-19 crisis has raised nearly £1million in a month.

Nelleke van Helfteren at Ipswich Citizens Advice  Picture: ARCHANTNelleke van Helfteren at Ipswich Citizens Advice Picture: ARCHANT

Almost 60,000 vulnerable people have been given direct support as a result, including an estimated 30,000 who have received emergency food support.

Suffolk Community Foundation, which runs the Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund, has announced the figures – but today warns more help is urgently needed to cope with surging demand.

Of the £935,000 raised, £520,000 has already been distributed to over 100 Suffolk charities. Dozens more requests worth over £250,000 are being processed.

Getting food to vulnerable people has been a key area, but services supporting mental and physical health and those suffering domestic abuse have seen increasing demand, along with those needing financial and legal advice due to dramatic changes in their circumstances.

Chief executive of Suffolk Community Foundation Stephen Singleton Picture: SLYVAINE POITAU PHOTOGRAPHY/ SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATIONChief executive of Suffolk Community Foundation Stephen Singleton Picture: SLYVAINE POITAU PHOTOGRAPHY/ SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

Stephen Singleton, chief executive of SCF, said: “Every pound given will immediately play a vital role in saving and rebuilding local lives and it’s so important that we thank everyone who has supported the crisis appeal so far.

“But we will need to raise considerably more money in Suffolk to support this vital work.

“In most cases, whilst demands on the their services have increased, fundraising activities of local charities and community groups have been stopped in their tracks by the virus, but by giving centrally to this Suffolk appeal people are helping to provide a co-ordinated and well targeted approach to tackling some of this funding gap and addressing local needs as effectively and fairly as possible.”

The fund is supported by leading Suffolk organisations including Community Action Suffolk, Suffolk Association of Local Councils, East Anglian Daily Times, Suffolk County Council, district and borough councils.

This figure raised includes £164,000 contributed by the National Emergencies Trust central appeal, but the rest has been raised locally.

Mr Singleton said there were over 5,000 charities and community groups in Suffolk, and they are “the glue that holds all these efforts together and keeps our fight against the Coronavirus moving forward”.

He added: “These are the people who are ultimately dealing with many of the requests for help which Suffolk’s vital ‘Home, But Not Alone’ emergency helplines (call 0800 876 6926 between 9am and 5pm everyday) are currently receiving, literally hundreds every day.

“Suffolk County Council tweeted a typical example this week of a self-isolating 74-year-old is now ‘very happy’ having called the number and been supported by a volunteer helping with shopping and medicine, befriending scheme volunteer calling for a chat, and receiving support with social isolation from local Charity ‘Our Special Friends’ who are now walking her dog.”

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HOW YOU CAN HELP IN THE CRISIS AND REBUILD LOCAL LIVES

• You can donate to the Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund

• Or you can call the giving hotline on 01473 786911, or send a text donation to 70085. To give £5 quote 5SuffolkCrisis, £10 quote 10SuffolkCrisis or £20 quote 20SuffolkCrisis. Texts cost the donation you have made plus one standard rate message.

• Funding is available to help their local neighbourhood schemes, community groups and charities who are supporting people through this crisis. Visit the website

• If you need urgent help, call Suffolk’s ‘Home, But Not Alone’ helpline on 0800 876 6926. It is open 9am to 5pm, every day.

Two examples of where the money is going:

Citizen’s Advice

Nelleke van Helfteren, from Ipswich Citizen’s Advice, said: “Since lockdown, our team of volunteers have taken huge numbers of phone calls from clients desperate to find out what their rights are at work and whether they can claim benefits to ensure any income into their households.

“We are bracing ourselves as we know that beyond lockdown we will be really stretched to help households get back on an even keel: financially, sorting housing issues, accessing benefits and getting back to work. It is not going to be simple or quick. This pandemic will have lasting consequences for the most vulnerable and those households who never thought they were in that category.”

Funds from the Coronavirus Appeal have already assisted all 8 citizen’s advice branches in Suffolk to equip their volunteers with the essential technology to continue providing essential advice and support to vulnerable people from home.

Aspect Living

This charity provides a meals on wheels service in the county, and Tess Aristodemou, chief executive, explained: “Our customer base has increased by 90 people per day in the last 2 weeks and we are receiving constant referrals for our service from hospital discharge to next of kin needing our support.

“We are a lot more than just a hot meal service, we always complete a health and wellbeing check every customer visit. We are often the daily the eyes and ears for families as their loved ones self-isolate.”


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