More than 50 groups across the county have been helped to tackle to coronavirus outbreak with grants from the Wiltshire Community Foundation.
Its Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund has now raised £350,000 in just four weeks. Interim co-chief executive Fiona Oliver said: “This is a fantastic total and we are so grateful for the donations. Our grant and finance teams are working flat out to make sure applications are assessed as quickly as possible to make sure the money gets to where it is needed speedily.”
Almost £200,000 worth of grants have been made to groups tackling hunger, poverty, isolation, mental health issues and home education.
Among the recipients is Phoenix Enterprises, which is supporting people with mental health issues or disabilities who are isolated at home.
The Elgin-based charity, which provides training, employment and support for more than 40 people, has been helped to compensate for losing all of its income during the pandemic with £5,000 from the community foundation.
The group is sub-contracted to do order picking, assembly and packing for companies including Dyson but it has seen its income vanish during the lockdown. A major concern for trustees is the welfare of its vulnerable users who are now trapped at home, with many having to shield because of health issues.
Fundraising manager Barry Branigan said: “Most of them are isolating at home and are not able to fully understand what it is going on - and many live on their own. We decided to change our way of operating to totally support them. So we have staff manning telephones almost any hour of the day and night to deal with calls where there is distress, confusion or lack of clarity.
“A lot of them are watching TV and there are mixed messages from official services and the guidelines change daily. It is causing them a lot of confusion and uncertainty. They dwell on that and the anxiety builds up, leading to even bigger mental health problems.”
Carer Support Wiltshire has been given £8,500 to set up a telephone support network for carers who have been left isolated by the pandemic. The group has 11,000 registered carers across the county and a team of up to 50 volunteers will prioritise older members who don’t have email.
Community fundraising officer Rachel Demery said: “Our face-to-face support services, mainly carer cafes, support groups and creative carer groups, have been postponed due to social-distancing restrictions, which means that nearly 500 carers in Wiltshire are going without interaction with their key support network at a time when they need it more than ever.”
Mrs Oliver said the £350,000 total has been reached with the help of individual donors, trusts, companies and money from the National Emergencies Trust’s Coronavirus Appeal.
She added: “We are so grateful for all the money that has so generously been given but as the lockdown goes into a fifth week, voluntary groups are feeling the effects more than ever and we know that need for help is going to keep growing.”
To find out more applying for a grant or to donate to the fund, go to wiltshirecf.org.uk.