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Since March 2020 Kent Community Foundation has awarded over £4.2m to charities and good causes

KENT Community Foundation has been at the forefront of the philanthropic response to COVID-19 distributing over £4.2m to charities across Kent and Medway since March 2020

Josephine McCartney, Chief Executive, Kent Community Foundation, said:

“As well as supporting existing grantees, our focus has been on providing funding to help the voluntary sector to respond to the county’s immediate needs, to adapt and to survive. As one of the largest grant-makers for Kent and Medway, the team at Kent Community Foundation knew that the voluntary sector would look to us for support and we knew that we had to act fast. When the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, we launched a Coronavirus Emergency Fund which was generously supported by our existing fund-holders, allowing us to offer financial support quickly. Much needed additional support has also been donated by organisations, including, the National Emergencies Trust, Kent County Council, Medway Council, Wards estate agents, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Co-Op who asked us to coordinate this funding on their behalf.”

Kent Community Foundation has to date distributed over £4.2m in more than 1300 grants to support organisations, individuals, and families during the pandemic. Here are some of the good causes that have been supported-

Walderslade Together CIC supports the elderly and vulnerable and particularly those who do not have friends or family nearby, within the Walderslade community. In April 2020, a grant of £7,400 from the Kent Community Foundation COVID-19 Fund contributed towards their ongoing services. In addition to ordering food packages and collecting shopping, the team also conducted welfare checks and group chats via social media to combat loneliness and isolation and keep the community spirit alive during the lockdown.

Time for the Homeless based in Medway was awarded £3,400 after they had reached ‘breaking point’ with the levels of demand for their help during the lockdown. The grant was awarded to support the provision of a soup kitchen four nights a week, together with food parcels for those without a home. The team was also given PPE to keep both themselves and their beneficiaries safe from Coronavirus.

Canterbury Umbrella is a not-for-profit community centre supporting those with mental health needs. They received £4,140 in emergency funding to employ an experienced telephone and email support worker to provide one-to-one support, especially for those who are older and without internet access. The remote support worker acted as a point of contact for the wellbeing programme and offered guidance on services to reduce crises for those in the greatest need due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions and social isolation

Awarded £2,000, The Autism Apprentice supports families with children who are autistic. The community interest company offers individual support for families looking for guidance and information on areas, including schooling, employment, benefits and strategies for home support. Having a child with autism and additional needs is daunting and challenging at any time but during this period of great uncertainty, when routine is disrupted, access to services is vital to alleviate stress and concern for the entire family. Funding was used to ensure the team could continue to offer support virtually.

Awarded £12,000 Beyond the Page supports women seeking English language tuition and community integration. The women include refugees, those with poor mental health, learning difficulties, asylum seekers and those with no first-language literacy and minimal spoken English. The funding was used to assist with key salaries and the running costs of expanded service to reach those in minority ethnic families in Thanet – an area which has experienced some of the highest COVID rates in the UK. One aim was to help those within the BAME community, especially with limited language skills, to protect themselves against the virus, and alleviating their fears about the pandemic. The charity set up a ‘Chatrooms’ programme, allowing the women to access help and support, reduce social isolation and maintain contact for those who do not have family or a support system locally. For those living in ‘digital poverty’ further support and equipment was provided to remove barriers to accessing help and information.

Josephine McCartney, Kent Community Foundation, continued:

“As we move once again into a full lockdown, we know we have a difficult year ahead of us, to ensure that the charitable sector across Kent and Medway can survive and adapt to the challenges the county continues to face.

“To assist the sector to prepare for the year ahead, we are hosting an online networking event to share stories from local organisations who have thrived (maybe unexpectedly!) through the challenges of the pandemic and have found some positivity amongst the adversity. Groups will share best practices including how they stayed connected to the communities they work with and how they will be taking that forward into 2021.”

To reserve a place, at the Kent Community Foundation networking event on Monday 25 January charitable organisations should email: natalie@kentcf.org.uk

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