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Social media army needed to help boost fund that is feeding vulnerable during lockdown

Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund is helping to rebuild local lives. Delivering baby packs from Epic Dad. Picture: Suffolk Community Foundation

Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund is helping to rebuild local lives. Delivering baby packs from Epic Dad. Picture: Suffolk Community Foundation

Suffolk Community Foundation

Social media champions are needed to help spread the word about a vital fundraising drive to support Suffolk’s most vulnerable during the Covid-19 lockdown and beyond.

Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund is helping to rebuild local lives. Picture: Suffolk Community FoundationSuffolk Coronavirus Community Fund is helping to rebuild local lives. Picture: Suffolk Community Foundation

Suffolk’s Coronavirus emergency fund has now reached £1.25m of its initial £2m target, and that money has helped more than 120 charities carry out vital work in the country, helping more than and 62,500 vulnerable residents.

Organisers say that to continue supporting them and to reach the many more who need help during the coronavirus outbreak a ‘social media army’ of volunteers is needed. They want people to share the message that the fund is absolutely vital to support vulnerable people now, and in the months and years ahead.

One charity has been using grants from the fund to help feed vulnerable children.

More: See here for all the latest coronavirus news in Suffolk

Jim Manning, of the Whitton Youth Partnership, said: “We work with young people in north west Ipswich. These young people are not at school now, many are vulnerable and hungry without school meals. “We urge national and local support for our young people as a matter of urgency.”

Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund is helping to rebuild local lives. Baby packs from Epic Dad. Picture: Suffolk Community FoundationSuffolk Coronavirus Community Fund is helping to rebuild local lives. Baby packs from Epic Dad. Picture: Suffolk Community Foundation

While Shayra Begum, of BSC Multicultural Services, said their members are able to provide emergency food to those in need thanks to the fund.

“In addition to our day-to-day support of diverse communities, we are now providing emergency food and financial support from the emergency fund is absolutely vital.”

However, a survey conducted by Community Action Suffolk and reported in this newspaper last week showed as many as 60% of local charities believe they will not exist within 12 months if additional financial support isn’t forthcoming - highlighting the importance of the emergency fund.

Tim Holder, head of public affairs for Suffolk Community Foundation, which are running the fund, said: “The usual means of fundraising for these organisations ceased to exist beyond lockdown. Charity shops closed overnight, many gala fundraisers have been cancelled and everyday events like coffee mornings and car-boot sales have all been cancelled indefinitely.

Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund is helpng to rebuild local lives. Shab and Dave from Lofty Heights with a key-safe. Picture: Suffolk Community FoundationSuffolk Coronavirus Community Fund is helpng to rebuild local lives. Shab and Dave from Lofty Heights with a key-safe. Picture: Suffolk Community Foundation

“At the same time demands on local charities and community groups have been going through the roof. It’s the perfect storm for any charity or community group trying to help vulnerable people through lockdown and beyond.”

Ann Osborn, of the Rural Coffee Caravan, said: “The work of the voluntary sector is so important right now and must survive this crisis. We are perfectly placed and trusted to help people at a hyperlocal level. It’s so vital that no one is forgotten or left out.”

Mr Holder said that even before lockdown, social media was already playing an important role in keeping people in touch, but now Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms are, in many cases, the central way for families, friends and work colleagues to stay connected.

He hopes that now people will use it as a force for good in Suffolk and help promote the emergency fund.

Olive Quinton from Lofty Heights. Picture: Suffolk Community FoundationOlive Quinton from Lofty Heights. Picture: Suffolk Community Foundation

He continued: “We thank everyone who has already stepped up to give what they can afford, but now more than ever before, we need more local people to know just how important giving locally is. The Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund has been set up as a very easy way for people to make a difference and save lives, but not enough people know about it.

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“We need more people to give and more caring Suffolk people to help us tell that story. To support social media activity, we have created a new sign up on our website. We just ask for email contact details so we can share information that can then be passed on via everyday social media conversations.”

This project is part of Suffolk’s ‘Home, But Not Alone’ initiative and is supported by Suffolk County Council, Community Action Suffolk, Suffolk Healthwatch, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, Suffolk Association of Local Councils, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner and The East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star.

Baby packs from Epic Dad. Picture: Suffolk Community FoundationBaby packs from Epic Dad. Picture: Suffolk Community Foundation

Lofty Heights

Lofty Heights are a non-profit organisation providing specialist decluttering, deep cleaning and garden services working closely with the NHS, local authorities, and charities providing support to vulnerable people in the community.

Baby packs from Epic Dad. Picture: Suffolk Community FoundationBaby packs from Epic Dad. Picture: Suffolk Community Foundation

Their team members are currently working in the homes of patients ready for discharge, but who risk blocking hospital beds because their homes need re-organising before specialist beds or mobility equipment can be installed.

Chief Executive Olive Quinton said: “The funding we have received from the Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund has enabled us to purchase key-safes and installation equipment at the properties of patients who live alone. Keys can now be left safely at their property and are available for equipment delivery and for vital future visits from family, home carers and other services. In the last two weeks since receiving the funding we have already carried out 17 jobs, enabling those 17 individuals to get home or stay at home, 17 beds free for our hospitals to deal with the current crisis and 17 families that have been helped to ‘stay home, stay safe, and protect the NHS’. Reducing the need to return keys to patients in hospital has also saved our team precious time and helped to keep them safe.”

EPIC Dads

With a focus on supporting fathers, father figures and families – E.P.I.C stands for Encourager, Provider, Instructor, and Carer.

The recent grant they have received has enabled the West Suffolk based organisation to continue to support fathers, father figures, and families via phone calls, text messages, emails, Facebook, and Zoom video calls. They are now able to continue offering encouragement and emotional support as they navigate home schooling and support dads now working from home.

Founder Richard Keeble said: “The funding has also allowed them to create 100 baby packs for some young families who don’t have enough baby supplies during this period of self-isolation and social distancing. Baby Packs contain essential items for babies and infants such as nappies, wet wipes, baby milk formula, baby food, baby lotion, bath wash, nappy cream.”

To sign up and play your part in Suffolk’s ‘Social Media Army’ or to donate to the fund please visit the website here


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