More than £600,000 worth of funding has been donated to support charities and community projects across Coventry and Warwickshire during the Coronavirus pandemic, a new report has revealed.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub’s SmartRegion report from June 23 - July 6 has gathered information from the CWLEP’s business engagements and survey data, Coventry and Warwickshire Champions, Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and local third sector organisations, including the Coventry & Warwickshire Co-Operative Development Agency (CWCDA).
Analysis of the region’s third sector showed that grant-giving organisation the Heart of England Community Foundation has pledged around £411,000 to enable 109 voluntary organisations in Coventry and Warwickshire alone to carry on delivering vital services to local communities.
The organisers of Coventry’s UK City of Culture programme in 2021 - the Coventry City of Culture Trust - have also donated at least £206,000; which has seen £100,000 pledged to help cultural organisations affected by the pandemic to continue with their preparations for Coventry’s year as City of Culture, which will now start in May 2021.
As part of their efforts, the Coventry City of Culture Trust has set up a £60,000 coronavirus resilience fund for individuals and organisations working within the culture sector who have been impacted by loss of earnings; while £46,000 has also been made available for 92 local residents who applied for the Trust’s Leadership Programme to continue developing ideas for the city’s year in the spotlight.
The widespread support comes at a time when Coventry and Warwickshire’s voluntary organisations have had to battle unprecedented challenges to continue operating, including the financial implications from having to close charity shops and cease community fundraising events, while social distancing measures have impacted the delivery of services for healthcare and social care charities.
Some charities have also seen a rise in competition for their paid-for services from pop-up community groups on social media who are offering similar services for free.
The CWLEP Growth Hub’s SmartRegion report also revealed that the private sector - which provides substantial support to charities - is showing promising signs of recovery with supermarkets and delivery companies advertising for an increasing number of vacancies in the region; with nurses being the most popular current vacancy.
Craig Humphrey, managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, praised the community spirit that has been shown towards the region’s voluntary organisations.
“Community groups and voluntary organisations are the bedrock of society and make a life-changing difference to so many people, yet demand for their services has intensified amid a backdrop that has made it difficult for them to continue operating,” he said.
“The CWLEP Growth Hub and partner organisations such as the CWCDA, along with local authorities, have been here to support the third sector organisations that make such a difference to the most disadvantaged residents. It is crucial that these organisations are supported alongside other businesses, and the funding provided by Heart of England Community Foundation and the Coventry City of Culture Trust is absolutely phenomenal and reinforces the unrivalled spirit that we have in this region.
“While this funding is incredibly generous it is also short-term, and as an uncertain path lies ahead for third sector organisations striving to return to a pre-covid 19 scenario. More support is going to be needed over a longer period of time from the government right through to stakeholders at a regional level.
“Private sector businesses play such a crucial role in funding voluntary organisations via charity of the year and fundraising initiatives, and the sooner we can help businesses on to the straight and narrow in their recovery, the quicker the wider community can reap the rewards.
“The overall picture of the region’s business community is one of cautious optimism. We know first-hand that there is likely to be some short-term pain in the way of redundancies in the region as the government’s furlough scheme ends, but businesses in the finance, administration and warehouse sectors are already planning recruitment campaigns from September onwards.”
Caption: Craig Humphrey, the managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub