Responding to the impact of Covid-19, Catalyst set up a ‘Coronavirus Voluntary Sector Support Fund’ in March to help local charities and voluntary organisations adapt and continue their work.
The fund, which is now closed, has been open to organisations working in our neighbourhoods supporting those with low and insecure incomes, young people, older people, vulnerable adults, and those experiencing mental ill-health.
As well as supporting our customers directly, we work with organisations who offer complementary services such as food banks and vouchers, befriending and reducing isolation, projects for young people, and skills and careers advice.
In the last four months, the Catalyst Communities team has reviewed applications and awarded grants ranging from £400 to £2,000, helping 30 community-based organisations across London and the home counties.
These include London-based Young Ealing Foundation, the Volunteer Centre Kensington and Chelsea, the Felix Project and the Welshore Community Hub, and counties-based Luton Foodbank, Communities1st covering St Albans and Hertsmere and the Agnes Smith Advice Centre in Blackbird Leys, Oxford.
The boost in funds our grant provided when lockdown, social distancing and PPE measures were introduced has helped charities cover additional costs such as volunteers’ expenses, general running costs and new equipment, with many having to switch from face-to-face to online and telephone contact.
Catalyst’s Director of Community Investment, Sahil Khan, said: ‘We set up the ‘Coronavirus Voluntary Sector Support Fund’ to help charities and community organisations to continue to deliver their vital services during this unprecedented time, and to support people who are most at risk during prolonged periods of isolation.
‘The grants we’ve awarded have made an incredible difference to the lives of our residents, their families and their communities. Thank you to all the organisations who applied, and who continue to work resourcefully and tirelessly to help those who need it most – both now and in more normal times.
‘In response to the Black Lives Matter campaign, and reflecting the particular impact that Covid-19 has on black communities, we’ll be launching a new fund specifically for charities and voluntary groups led by or working with black people and communities. We’ll share further details on our website and social media channels soon.’