Wānaka Sun       

COVID-19 Response Fund responding to growing need

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 07 May, 2020 | By Pat Deavoll editor@thewanakasun.co.nz

Otago Community Trust has awarded $25,000 to the Queenstown Lakes District Council as part of its dedicated COVID-19 Response Fund.

The Trust has awarded nearly $400,000 of grants to date. 

Trust chief executive, Barbara Bridger said the trust has had a range of applications come in; a number are to assist with technology, whereas others are related to increased demand for essential services and the increased costs associated with these.

We have had to decline a number of applications as they did not meet the criteria of the Response Fund. The Fund was not established to compensate for loss of income due to COVID-19, we have had to reiterate that at times, Bridger said.

“We know that these are particularly challenging times, the fund is very much focused on supporting community organisations to meet the additional costs of delivering services, projects or activities to members of the community ‘most in need' as a result of COVID-19.”

We are also providing funding support to those community organisations who are incurring or have incurred additional costs related to expansion of services as a result of COVID-19, said Bridger

Brian Lowe from Youthline Otago said with support from the COVID-19 Response Fund it had been able to employ a second dedicated triage staff member to support the Helpline Counselling team during peak times. In April, client interactions increased 105 per cent above usual levels and support for mental distress increased 68 per cent.

“This allows us to safely manage the increased volume of work that has resulted from COVID-19; we anticipate a reasonable period of ongoing distress related to various issues including schooling, financial pressures, job loss, domestic issues including domestic violence and mental health issues such as increased anxiety and depression.

“We know we are making a difference when we receive notes of thanks that simply say ‘thank you for talking to me, you make me feel worth something to the world,'” Lowe said.

Otago Community Trust has also granted $25,000 to each of the five territorial local authorities that reside within the Trust's funding area.

Trust chair Ross McRobie said this is in recognition of the fact that while much of the costs of the Civil Defence and Welfare efforts are being met by central government at this time, councils faced extra costs as they respond to the immediate welfare needs of their individual communities.

“Overall, we are pleased with how the Response Fund is tracking and we encourage community organisations to contact the trust if they have any questions around funding support.” 

To date, the Otago Community Trust has awarded $397,434 to 29 community organisations since the dedicated COVID-19 Response Fund opened in early April.

Read edition 973 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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