'Wonderful kindness' - Suffolk Covid appeal, backed by Ed Sheeran, hits £3million

Ed Sheeran has backed a new Suffolk appeal helping local charities in the wake of the Covid-19 pande

Suffolk superstar Ed Sheeran helped kick-start the appeal - Credit: Archant

The Suffolk coronavirus emergency fund, backed by superstar Ed Sheeran, has now raised more than £3million and led to more than 300,000 individual offers of support to those in need. 

The news is revealed on the anniversary of the first national lockdown - a landmark moment which led to a huge community response in Suffolk.

Suffolk Community Foundation launched the Coronavirus Community Fund, with the Rebuilding Local Lives Appeal, kick-started by a generous donation by Suffolk star Ed and supported by this newspaper, a key part of that.

Today, it has raised £3million, and led to over 300,000 individual offers of support in the county, thanks to 560 grants to organisations. 

Stephen Singleton MBE, chief executive of Suffolk Community Foundation said: "Suffolk has really shown in so many ways how it cares for people in need.

Chief executive of Suffolk Community Foundation Stephen Singleton has been made an MBE Picture: SLYV

Stephen Singleton, chief executive of Suffolk Community Foundation - Credit: Archant

"We should take heart from the actions that local volunteers have taken and from the huge generosity that so many have demonstrated by giving to the appeal and the central emergency fund."

Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston, said: ‘’It has been a quite extraordinary time with exceptional challenges facing our communities.

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"However, despite the uncertainty and the sadness, we have witnessed wonderful acts of kindness right across Suffolk and superb support for those in need from our amazing voluntary sector."

A well as public donations, the National Emergencies Trust, other national funders, the local public sector, and business community helped raise the £3m.

Tim Holder, head of public affairs at SCF, hailed the success, but warned: "We remain at the bottom of the mountain when it comes to building individual lives and local communities back up and out of the pandemic.

"We absolutely need #TeamSuffolk to keep working together and to keep giving to the fund."

Christine Abraham, chief executive of Community Action Suffolk, told of the immense effort not just from existing organisations, which adapted to work from home to continue providing services, but from individuals who simply cared for neighbours.

And Bridget McIntyre MBE, High Sheriff of Suffolk, said it was now important to "keep going and prove that we can do the rebuild part too". 

George Vestey, SCF chairman, said: "We must thank everyone for continuing to do all they can and to our hard working teams in the media across the county, the East Anglian Daily Times, Ipswich Star, BBC Radio Suffolk and so many other more local publications. Their ability to spreading the word across the entire county has played such an important part in this success story."

The appeal continues with donations welcomed via: www.suffolkcf.org.uk, by telephone 01473 602602 or by post to Suffolk Community Foundation, The Old Barns, Peninsula Business Centre, Wherstead, Ipswich, IP9 2BB

EPIC dad Suffolk

Richard Keeble (right), EPIC Dad group founder, and a volunteer delivering home-made meals in their van to families living across the West Suffolk area. - Credit: EPIC Dad

Case Study: EPIC Dad
With a focus on supporting fathers, father figures and families – EPIC stands for Encourager, Provider, Instructor, and Carer.

The grant received from the Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund enabled the West Suffolk-based organisation to continue to support service users via phone calls, text messages, emails, Facebook, and Zoom video calls.

The team developed new ways to engage with one-to-one wellbeing walks, baby packs and delivering home cooked meals.

EPIC Dad meals Suffolk

Homemade cooked meals made with personalised notes from the team at EPIC Dad - Credit: EPIC Dad

It has also started a weekly new father’s support group on Zoom which is creating space for new dads to connect and share their experiences of becoming a father through the pandemic. Zoom quiz nights are also in the weekly schedule, offering social opportunities for dads.

Richard Keeble, from EPIC Dad, said: "We are very grateful for all the support from SCF which has enabled us to help dads through our wellbeing, parenting, and family support. We hope to reach more fathers through our support services in the days to come."

Case Study: IP17GNS 
This Good Neighbour Scheme was set up for in just five weeks with a 100-plus team of volunteers supporting the 5,000 residents in Saxmundham and Kelsale-cum-Carlton through the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. 

Bryony Peall IP17GNS

Bryony Peall (right), lead volunteer at IP17GNS, with a team member making deliveries of food boxes to isolated residents of Saxmundham and surrounding villages - Credit: IP17GNS

Like many rural towns and villages, it has a higher percentage of elderly and more vulnerable people than in many other parts of the UK.  

Funding received via the Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund helped provide emergency food parcels or assisting with shopping deliveries, prescription deliveries for those self-isolating, shielding or quarantining, as well as setting up a phone buddy system in order to receive regular phone calls for a chat and to check in on anyone experiencing loneliness or anxiety.

Bryony Peall, of IP17GNS, said: “The funding has been so vital to help towards delivering many of the services to the residents of Saxmundham over the last year.”

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