Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Coronavirus fund hits £850,000, helps more local organisations

Swindon Night Shelter's Ian McCarthy


A fund established to help voluntary groups across the county deal with effects of the pandemic has hit £850,000.

Wiltshire Community Foundation launched the Coronavirus Response Fund back in March – just before the country went into lockdown.

Since then it has awarded over half a million pounds to more than 150 groups.

Among the most recent recipients are Swindon Night Shelter, which received £10,000, and the Wiltshire Bobby Van, which was awarded £5,000.

Swindon Night Shelter feed not only rough sleepers, but also hungry schoolchildren and families plunged into poverty.

The 12-year-old charity, based at The Haven in Queen’s Drive, has had to expand its operation after being approached by more than 20 agencies in the town needing food parcels.

“We have been serving schools, women’s refuges, families referred by social services and many more,” said operations manager Dan Read. “We weren’t doing any of this before and it has been absolutely fantastic to have been able to help at this time.”

Wiltshire Bobby Van, which helps domestic violence victims stay safe, has been kept on the road during the pandemic.

The service has three vans manned by former police officers working all over the county to help domestic abuse victims and elderly people whose homes have been broken into improve their security with new locks, panic alarms and valuable advice.

The charity has lost more than £70,000 in fundraising revenue after events were cancelled due to the lockdown.

Director Jennie Shaw said events like the open garden at the home of Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and his wife Annette, which raised £40,000 last year, the Calne Classic Car Run and Heddington Steam Fair have all been lost.

The lost revenue came at a time when Wiltshire Police has seen a 14 percent rise in domestic abuse cases.

To donate to the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund or to find out how to apply for a grant, go to www.wiltshirecf.org.uk