Devon County Council has awarded a total of over £300k to nearly 400 organisations across Devon working with communities affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The COVID-19 Prompt Action Fund was rapidly launched at the start of the lockdown to help voluntary and community groups support the most vulnerable in their communities and tackle the social and economic impacts of the outbreak.
The money has also been used to support initiatives that help communities become more resilient, such as improving access to services and information, strengthening community networks and increasing general wellbeing.
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said:
“The coronavirus outbreak has had a profound impact on our communities, so it has been vital that we all work together to support our residents during this difficult time, especially the most vulnerable.
“The way everyone responded to this challenge has been exceptional. I’ve been particularly impressed with the speed at which communities have mobilised to ensure vital support reaches those who need it most.
“The vast number of initiatives we’ve supported through this fund demonstrates just how many generous volunteers give so freely of their time – stepping up to support those in need and helping keep their neighbours safe, often in the most innovative of ways.
“Your role has been and will continue to be significant and I thank you wholeheartedly for your all your inspiring work that is so essential to our county’s resilience.”
Two separate grants were made available through the fund; small ones of less than £500 and larger grants of up to £5,000.
East Devon District Council, Torridge District Council, Teignbridge District Council and North Devon Council also invested in the fund, partnering 50/50 in awarding small grants of up to £500 to schemes in their communities.
The funding has helped a wide range of groups including charities, community groups, Parish Councils and local businesses, with over 400 successful projects ranging from the delivery of essential food and medicine and the expansion of food banks to buying essential PPE and setting up a community support phoneline.
Kingsteignton League of Friends used the funding to provide hot meals for vulnerable residents; Roots Community Enhancement Dawlish supplied reusable activity to packs to children receiving food parcels; The Park Community School Learning Group helped support home learning for families with no online access; Teignbridge Community Transport helped people get to and from vital medical appointments; Braunton Volunteers purchased PPE for their volunteer drivers and Crediton Youth Theatre bought a laptop and Zoom license to provide online services to their community.
As the lockdown eases and the country begins to recover, applications for grants have slowed considerably so the fund will be ‘paused’ on Friday 19 June. County Council and District Council Members will continue to offer communities support through their locality budgets, and should there be a second spike of coronavirus in Devon the fund will reopen.