GCF responds to the Covid crisis

Greenoak Community Focus was unable to host the Annual Volunteer Awards event this year under Coronavirus restrictions, however has been able to still help local charities within Woking through the pandemic. Many charities experienced an increased demand in their services and saw many staff and resources at full capacity trying to adapt and expand to meet a growing need from the community. The current climate had also hindered or halted almost all community fundraising events, leaving many struggling to find funds to deliver the escalated support required. GCF reached out to several Charities in response to the crisis.

York Road Project a homelessness Charity had reported a significant increase to their services with staff working additional hours and weekends following the Government’s response and allocation of funds to help homeless people self-isolate during the COVID-19 outbreak. They had initially secured some financial aid from the Covid Crisis Fund and had relied on WBC to provide emergency sleeping arrangements in local facilities. With an enormous contribution of donations from the community towards supplies of clothing and everyday items such as toiletries, they had managed to support many of the vulnerable and high risk homeless in the community. However funds were dwindling by July and financial assistance was needed to continue providing increased services to clients and especially additional staffing costs. GCF were able to provide £3,000 to help them continue with weekend staffing costs until the end of the year, and supplied dozens of mobile phones and credit for vulnerable clients in emergency accommodation to keep in contact with staff.

Woking Mind, a mental health charity, reported that demands for mental health support had been unprecedented since the beginning of the outbreak.  They were receiving increasing numbers of referrals from partners, namely to support the mental health needs of those most vulnerable and isolated in the community, as well as clients who relied on face to face support and the general public who had been impacted by the pandemic. They had desperately needed to scale up their services, and GCF were able to provide £3,000 to help facilitate new programmes and training to further increase capacity.

Woking Foodbank who provided short term emergency food for local people in crisis had adapted their operations from a face to face service to a delivery model over the summer, and were providing food to over 60 households 6 days a week. GCF donated £3,000 to enable the charity to move to a new warehouse facility which was more suitable for the increased operations and fresh produce storage, allowing fresh bread, fruit and vegetables to be included in parcels alongside a supply of long life foods.

Your Sanctuary a charity who supported victims of domestic violence reported a steep rise in relationship breakdown with victims being “trapped” inside their homes with abusive partners as a result of the Covid19 lockdown. They continued to provide a helpline support service 7 days a week, a chat service via their website and were open to referrals, however following the easing of lockdown they received a huge influx of cases when people were finally able to make calls. The existing accommodation for families who had fled their homes from perpetrators were filled so quickly that other safe accommodation arrangements were sought at short notice to deal with the increase of people. GCF provided £3,000 to help furnish and equip a new purpose-built refuge as well as install a playroom and play equipment for the children who were going to live there.

Linkable who provides a wide range of services and activities for people with learning disabilities including autism, had adapted their services by providing online video sessions to continue engagement and activities for their service users and much needed contact and respite for their families who had been struggling during lockdown. GCF provided a donation of £3,000 to help the service to assist with the facilitation of face to face groups for Under 18s, and also extend sessions on Saturdays with up to 5 children in each group for the coming weeks of the summer term.

GCF worked with Greenoak HA to address concerns for their tenants who might be struggling to feed their children over the Autumn half-term break and decided to take action and provide food vouchers to all families with school age children. GCF provided vouchers to 49 families in total, who are Greenoak tenants in Woking.  Greenoak funded vouchers for 21 Greenoak tenant families with children outside Woking. Staff identified the nearest supermarkets to each property which turned out to be either Asda or Sainsbury and £20 vouchers were ordered: one for one child, two for two children and three for three or more children in a family. GCF funded a total cost which came to £1,800.

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