A Covid response charity has distributed £2 million in just eight months.

The need for speed has become apparent as the Cumbria Community Foundation has received as many applications for help in that time as it had for the whole of last year.

The Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund, set up in March by Cumbria Community Foundation, was created to help people in need during the pandemic.

Since then, more than 330 applications have been received with 185 organisations and community groups sharing £2,129,583.

Grants have been awarded to support community organisations providing vital services like foodbanks, delivery of food and care packages to vulnerable people, telephone and online services offering friendship and support to help reduce isolation, emotional, mental health and domestic violence support and financial hardship, support to access benefits and debt advice to name but a few.

Grants and donor services officer Annalee Holliday said: “The Community Foundation team have worked hard to assess an overwhelming level of applications ensuring vital support reaches those most in need as quickly as possible.

“Initially, we were having to review applications each week because of the numbers coming in and the urgency.

“Now the panel is considering them fortnightly although, of course, the team is looking at applications on a daily basis.”

She added that last week alone, more than half a million pounds was awarded to 29 organisations.

Among those who have been helped was West Cumbria Domestic Violence Support who received £14,824 to continue offer counselling support to victims of domestic violence.

Victoria Pike, Project Manager, said: “While many victims and survivors of domestic abuse will rely on their family and friends, they also need a strong provision of formal services, from specialist refuges to counsellors. Early intervention or lack of early support can enable or prohibit a person’s ability to break away from abuse.

"If they do decide to talk, whether they have left an abusive relationship or just contemplating it, it is important to have someone to talk to, to discuss the various options and help them make informed choices.

“The grant will enable us to increase counselling hours and employ new counsellors for the next six months, allowing us to support more people throughout COVID-19 and reduce our waiting list. Thanks again for your continued support and allowing us to change the lives of victims in West Cumbria.”

Carers Support Cumbria, a consortium that brings together the four carers organisations across the county, received £34,184 to roll out a Carer-Connect, a digital platform allowing carers to interact and access support, advice, and information online.

The Community Chef Project, based in St Herbert’s Church in Carlisle, received £3,300 to feed the homeless and the community over the winter months. Reverend Alun Jones said: "The grant will enable us to provide a hot meal every morning and evening for the homeless of Carlisle. The Community Chef Project is led by chef, Michael Cullen, and a small team of volunteers.”

Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “The emotional, physical and financial impacts of the pandemic have been incredibly severe, and many lives have been turned upside down. Sadly, there are even more people in Cumbria experiencing extreme hardship, isolation, loneliness, and anxiety.

"The generosity of our supporters is humbling. Sadly, this year has contained much grief and anxiety for people. However, we’re encouraged by the way people and groups have responded to help. Groups have come together to urgently deliver essential and critical services to those most in need. Small interventions can literally prevent a family becoming homeless and we are grateful to every group and individual that has helped.

“It’s clear that the tough times are far from over and our thoughts go out to everyone who has been affected by this global health crisis.”

The Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund has received hundreds of donations from local people and businesses, the National Emergencies Trust, and the NHS.

There is now limited funding available in the Cumbria COVID-19 Response Fund, which will be targeted at supporting those most vulnerable. Community groups requiring financial support should apply no later than 8th December 2020.

For more details call 01900 825760, email grants@cumbriafoundation.org or visit www.cumbriafoundation.org