COVID impact funding helps to tackle key community issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier last year, Bentley Motors launched its Covid Impact Fund with Cheshire Community Foundation (CCF) to help support the vital services provided by local charities and drive tangible changes for people in need across the Crewe community.
After listening to the needs of the community, donations were granted to 11 local charities in May 2021. The one-off grants ranged from £7,800 – £25,000 and were awarded to projects tackling food poverty; mental health and wellbeing; debt relief and financial education, recognising that these issues will have been immensely heightened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is anticipated that over 5,000 people will directly benefit from the funding and successful applicants include Body Positive, Chance Changing Lives and the St. Paul’s Centre.
Chance Changing Lives provides a holistic range of services, including a community pantry. The service supports 170 local families and distributes around 1,700 items in a week in addition to its fresh goods deliveries. Members contribute £3 per week and in exchange receive up to £20 worth of food, toiletries and household products.
Having seen a decline in donations during the pandemic, the funding from the Covid Impact Fund has allowed them to not only keep their doors open but ensure that a diverse range of stock remains available, despite the number of referrals rising by 43 per cent in the past three or four months.
St. Paul’s Centre offers a food bank, café and other essential community services. The Covid Impact Fund grant has made a particular difference to support the delivery of 200 food parcels to 160 people affected by homelessness and 40 families in need of support last Christmas.
Having forged an even closer working relationship through the pandemic, Chance Changing Lives and St. Pauls have pioneered a joint initiative to drive down poverty together. A home delivery service is now offered for people who find it impossible to access services in person, with St. Pauls picking up the food from the Chance Changing Lives Pantry and delivering to house-bound or isolating members alongside its own delivery services.
St. Pauls equally refer back to Chance’s services from its food bank to provide a longer-term solution to food poverty at its local Community Pantry.
Richard Holmes, CEO of St. Paul’s Centre, explains:
“Bentley Motors has reacted to the needs of the community from the ground up. The integration of these services has created an essential loop so that no one falls into food crisis.”
Sally Hepton, Director of Government Relations and CSR at Bentley Motors, comments:
“As part of Bentley’s Beyond100 strategy, we are enhancing our focus on social impact by advancing life chances. I am delighted that the Covid Impact Fund we established with our long-term partners CCF is helping to accelerate meaningful change and enhance vital local services.
“Through this process, the need for further community support in Crewe was highlighted and CCF established a new group fund for the town. We are pleased to be part of that new “Crewe Fund”, which extended support to seven community projects focusing on health and wellbeing; education and employment, and improved neighbourhoods.”
Another project supported by the Covid Impact Fund, which reflects good collaboration between local partners is Body Positive, which offers high-quality, innovative services for sexual health and LGBT+ Communities. The funding it has received from the Covid Impact Fund has allowed it to upskill and train volunteer counsellors to enhance support and extend its reach to people in need, especially those struggling with isolation as a result of the pandemic.
Support is being further extended with help from local volunteers, including new recruits from Bentley’s Be-Proud colleague network.