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First grants from city's virus action fund

Friday, April 3rd, 2020 7:11am

By Daniel Clark, Local Democracy Reporting Service

Exeter Community Wellbeing doshes out dosh

Grants as part of a £1m community action fund to help organisations support people and communities most affected by the coronavirus pandemic have begun to be dished out.

The St Sidwell’s Centre, Exeter Communities Together, and the City Community Trust have been awarded funds from the Exeter Covid-19 Community Action Fund.

The fund is being run by Exeter City Council as part of the Exeter Community Wellbeing initiative and is supported by Exeter Chiefs Foundation. Groups can get rapid access to small grants for local projects. 

City Community Trust, the charity of Exeter City Football Club has been awarded nearly £1,000. Jamie Vittles, chief executive of the charity, said last week that it made “complete sense” for his team to get involved in helping out across the city. 

He said: “Normally we would be preparing for our Easter holiday clubs or delivering a huge variety of community activity for people of all ages. Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the delivery of our services, with the majority of the work we do at a standstill. 

“Our team are prepared to get stuck in and help in any way they can, whether that is collecting prescriptions, food shopping, delivering urgently needed supplies, or supporting children with their education. The trust has a six-strong team and is offering up its van to help around the city. 

Cllr Amal Ghusain, Lead Councillor of Equalities, Diversity and Communities, said: “The community spirit and ‘can-do’ attitude of Jamie and everyone at the City Community Trust is incredible. 

“Like so many groups and individuals, they have risen to the challenge that this virus has brought and reacted with such positively. I can’t thank them enough.” 

A total of £6,000 for two projects to help people through the coronavirus outbreak has been awarded to St Sidwell’s Centre. Centre manager Dave Wright said the money would help them provide food for the vulnerable, now that other services are closed. It would also allow them to offer community support and distribute food and meals to some of the most vulnerable families and school children in the city. 

A community partnership aimed at giving black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in Exeter a greater voice has been given nearly £4,000.

Exeter Communities Together is a partnership of grassroots community organisations that delivers events and activities across Exeter. ECT operate out of Exwick Community Centre, which has already identified a projected loss of income of £6,600 from cancelled bookings over the next six months. 

Muktar Ahmed, of ECT, said a grant of £2,990 would help protect some staff costs as well as running costs for the group. “This will not only support the continuity of Exwick Community Centre but also focus efforts on delivering a hardship relief project for those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, as the building will be used for that purpose now that there aren’t any bookings.” 

He added that a separate grant of £976 would help the partnership provide free meals for the elderly and vulnerable, reducing hardship and isolation during the outbreak. It would also allow them to produce guidance materials in different languages for those dealing with social isolation and distancing. 

“We know that some of our residents have limited understanding of English and therefore we plan to use our in-house language skills to provide the guidance in their native language and this includes producing a series of videos.” 

Cllr Ghusain said: “The work of ECT over the last year has been huge. They are contributing to improving the health and wellbeing of BAME communities and society as a whole by developing, as a partnership, shared knowledge and understanding, building sympathy and reducing fear between BAME communities and the indigenous population and reducing social isolation.” 

To find out more about the Exeter Grants Programme go to the City Council website

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