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Praise and plea as Norfolk raises £1m for charities helping vulnerable in coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 06:00 31 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:27 31 May 2020

Claire Cullen, chief executive of Norfolk Community Foundation. Pic: Norfolk Community Foundation.

Claire Cullen, chief executive of Norfolk Community Foundation. Pic: Norfolk Community Foundation.

Norfolk Community Foundation

The remarkable generosity of Norfolk people has seen £1m raised to help charities stop vulnerable people from going hungry or being lonely during the coronavirus crisis.

Pippa May, chief executive of West Norfolk Befriending. Pic: West Norfolk Befriending.Pippa May, chief executive of West Norfolk Befriending. Pic: West Norfolk Befriending.

But an urgent plea has been issued for people to keep donating to a special fund set up to ensure such organisations and charities survive when their futures could be on the line.

The COVID-19 Community Response Fund was set up as the pandemic started to spread - a pot of money which Norfolk Community Foundation distributes to charities.

Working in Partnership with the Norfolk Resilience Forum, it has meant charities and volunteers have helped get food to vulnerable people, including those who are still having to shield despite the easing of restrictions.

And older people cut off from friends and family have been helped through befriending services calling them up to ease the loneliness.

Claire Cullens, chief executive of Norfolk Community Foundation, said: “The generosity of Norfolk’s residents and businesses has enabled us to reach our first target of £1m to deliver an unprecedented level of support to our local charities and organisation. But, in order to reach everyone, we need donations to continue.

“It is these front-line organisations working hard to make sure vulnerable people are receiving food, and feeling connected and supported, at a time when so many are fearful.

“These charities, who work so hard to help others, also need help themselves. Loss of income has left many concerned about their future. Help us to help them survive and keep our communities strong.”

Ceri Sumner, spokeswoman for the Norfolk Resilience Forum, said: “Loneliness caused by isolation can affect people’s mental health. We need to remind ourselves voluntary services are still on the front-line, tackling these issues, and they need our support more than ever.”

‘We can’t sing the fund’s praises enough’

An organisation to benefit from the Covid-19 Community Response Fund is West Norfolk Befriending.

The King’s Lynn charity usually offers a face-to-face befriending service, with volunteers visiting isolated older people in their homes.

However, with those visits on hold, the charity was given money so volunteers to telephone people - many of them shielding and unable to see friends and family - to provide companionship.

Pippa May, chief executive officer at West Norfolk Befriending, said: “The extra funding has made a wonderful difference, because we have been able to help more isolated older people during this difficult time.

“It’s a real opportunity for West Norfolk Befriending to develop, as an organisation, to use telephone befriending – we’ve not done this before.

“Without this money, we would not have been in a position to do this, to work differently and with more people. We can’t sing the fund’s praises enough.”

The Green Light Trust, which supports nearly 2,000 adults and children who face various barriers to life progression each year, has also had financial help.

Using nature to engage individuals who struggle with their mental and physical wellbeing, their in-person services are currently suspended due to the restrictions on social gatherings.

Mandy Horne, head of partnerships at Green Light Trust, which has its office in Bury St Edmunds, said: “Our charity, like many others, has had to deal with the financial challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

“But we felt it was vital that we did not leave our clients without support during this difficult period, as it was highly likely to have a detrimental effect on their already fragile mental wellbeing.

“We therefore turned this into an opportunity and, thanks to our great team, we swiftly developed our nature-inspired online wellbeing programme: AIR.

“With the fantastic support of funders like Norfolk Community Foundation, we have been able to deliver this programme to hundreds of people during lockdown and, when we are able to resume with our woodland programme, we plan to continue to run AIR as an option for people to engage with us beyond the coronavirus crisis.

“This will make it easier for us to reach more people across a wider geographical area and has put the charity in a great position for the longer term.”

How you can help

Donations can be made at www.norfolkfoundation.com/giving-philanthropy/covid19communityresponsefund

Cheques, payable to Norfolk Community Foundation (referencing Covid-19 Community Response Fund), can be sent to Norfolk Community Foundation, St James Mill, Whitefriars, Norwich, NR3 1TN, or call 01603 623958.


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