14 voluntary organisations working on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus have received funding in the first round of the Voluntary Services Emergency Fund.
Today we’re delighted to announce the first 14 recipients of the Voluntary Services Emergency Fund (VSEF).
The Welsh Government fund was set up at speed earlier this month in order to get funding to the people who needed it most.
The purpose of the fund is to enable those providing vital support to groups such as: people in isolation, the elderly, carers, people struggling to access food etc so that they can be supported during this time.
Here’s a bit of background on some of the first projects to receive funding – if you’re part of an organisation that is working directly with vulnerable communities during the pandemic, please find out more and apply here.
Bridgend Carers Centre
Bridgend Carers Centre provides information, support and advice to unpaid carers, caring for loved ones who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. The Centre continues to provide vital support by telephone, email, video calling and social media to all carers experiencing isolation, increased anxiety, loneliness and practical difficulties.
The Centre will use their VSEF grant to support, complement and bolster the primary health care services throughout the region during the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Our dedicated team are caring for the carers who are protecting the most vulnerable people in our community through this pandemic,’ says Janet Jordan, Business Development Officer. ‘We’re very grateful for this grant and will use it to continue their essential service at this time of unprecedented need.’
Swansea Samaritans offer emotional support to the residents of Swansea and the surrounding area.
A grant from VSEF is vital due to the loss of a great deal of fundraising income – they would normally run a charity shop, and fundraise on the street, both of which are not possible at the moment. The grant will be used to keep the Samaritans office open and facilitate additional volunteer shifts.
This will enable volunteers to take more calls and offer more support to people who are under additional stress, are more isolated than ever, or are at risk of harm or suicide.
‘Thanks to this grant, we can continue to be there for every caller no matter what their issue is, giving emotional support when it is needed,’ says John Phillips, branch treasurer. ‘One caller said to me the other day, thank you for saving lives. We’re grateful to the Voluntary Services Emergency Fund for enabling us to do that.’
BMMR Parish Trust
The Church Assistance Request in an Emergency (or CARE) project was set up by BMMR Parish Trust in a direct response to meet the needs of the community following the coronavirus outbreak.
‘The support from WCVA and the Welsh Government has not only given us financial resources, but confirmed that we’re doing the right thing for our communities at this time,’ says Rev. Dean Aaron Roberts, ‘they’re the first organisations that have given us a significant grant, so we are very thankful and grateful.’
The grant will be used to expand their food hub and food distribution service. Since the pandemic they are seeing an increase in requests for more food packages and need to meet this demand by purchasing more food from FareShare – a charitable redistribution surplus food service that provides redistributes services produce to foodbanks and other charitable groups.
The organisation will mainly deliver to vulnerable people who are isolated and cannot leave their homes.
Creating Enterprise CIC
Creating Enterprise, part of Cartrefi Conwy Housing Association, is a building and maintenance contractor and social enterprise based in Conwy, North Wales.
The grant from VSEF will enable them to provide a Community Wellbeing and Responder service to vulnerable, isolated and elderly people living in a Cartrefi Conwy property – through volunteers touching base and delivering shopping. Volunteers will also deliver free furniture to tenants in need from their Second-Chance furniture project.
‘We’ll be using the funding to set up a Volunteering Wellbeing Team who will be providing keeping in touch telephone calls to the thousands of vulnerable and elderly tenants of Cartrefi Conwy Housing Association,’ says Director Sharon Jones. ‘The volunteers will also be providing emergency shopping and collection of prescriptions to those in need.’
Home-Start Cymru for Families
Home-Start Cymru works with families with young children through a volunteer-led, home-visiting model of support, combining a network of community-based volunteers from across Wales with the organisation’s professional expertise.
‘We are delighted to have received support through the VSEF which will enable us to expand this vital support and reach more families who desperately need us more than ever,’ says Bethan Webber, Chief Executive. ‘As well as rolling out more remote support, the funding will enable us to safely establish a doorstep delivery service providing vital food and supplies to families that are stranded at home and unable to access the basic items they need.’
Home-Start Cymru will be bringing more volunteers on board to be able to do this. The funding will be spent on recruitment of the volunteers, staff costs, increasing the doorstep support provision, IT equipment, and PPE equipment.
The Centre for African Entrepreneurship
The Centre for African Entrepreneurship (CAE) is a Swansea based charity that caters to the needs of the area’s Black and Ethnic minority groups.
The BAME community in Swansea has reported to the organisation that their mental health issues have increased since the outbreak of Covid-19. There are many reasons for this, however language barriers, not having access to IT equipment and unemployment are the main causes of concern.
The project will work on reducing isolation, anxiety and hunger with bespoke online and telephone services, and food collection and delivery activities to 200 people, including migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who feel isolated.
‘We’re very pleased to become VSEF recipients through the swift action of WCVA – our excitement can really not be matched at this time!’ says Operations Manager Yolanda Barnes. ‘Through their generous support, it’s possible for us to contribute towards making our community a great place to live in regardless of the current challenges.’
ELITE Supported Employment
ELITE Supported Employment support people with disabilities to get secure and sustain employment, but because of the crisis a high number of service users have lost their employment jobs and need support navigating benefits claims. Those with learning difficulties require advocates to liaise with the Job Centre and ELITE have worked with a number of employers already to overturn redundancies, to become helping employees become furloughed employees instead.
CEO, Andrea Wayman stated ‘This funding is crucial to enable us to implement an employment intervention response to individuals with disabilities or at disadvantage.
‘It will provide vital support to individuals who have lost their employment, are at risk of losing their employment, or to support individuals and employers to implement furlough schemes, which ultimately enable people to maintain their employment.’
Apply to the Voluntary Services Emergency Fund
The voluntary sector across Wales is playing a pivotal role in supporting those in need across Welsh communities.
In this time of national emergency, funding needs to reach those working directly with communities quickly, to meet a huge increase in need.
VSEF grants exist to support not for profit organisations that are working at community level all the way up to those working on a national scale across Wales.