Communities awarded close to £1million in grants during Covid crisis

Ann Osborn and founder Sally Fogden of the Rural Coffee Caravan charity Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ann Osborn and founder Sally Fogden of the Rural Coffee Caravan charity, which has been supported by the grants for its work during the Covid pandemic. - Credit: Archant

Community groups, clubs and charities have been awarded nearly £1million over the last year in Mid Suffolk — with support given to those providing lifelines during the Covid pandemic. 

In the 2020/21 financial year £996,855 was awarded by Mid Suffolk District Council in community grants. 

A new dedicated Covid-19 Emergency Needs Grant was also opened last May to help communities through the peak of the pandemic.

More than 60 organisations benefitted from over £100,000 in funding, including good neighbour schemes, foodbanks and community outreach projects — which have been vital services for people over the last year.

Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS), who assist the ambulance service at the scene of serious incidents, was one of the grant recipients.

Employee Gina Saunders said their volunteer clinicians are now operating in an "extremely challenging environment due to the virus", as teams continue to do their best for all critically ill and injured patients. 

Volunteer SARS critical care paramedics, Joe Dowsing and Andrew Bates, on a voluntary team shift Pic

Volunteer SARS critical care paramedics, Joe Dowsing and Andrew Bates, on a voluntary team shift. - Credit: Archant

She said the support from the council "will make a big difference". 

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Meanwhile, Tom Barker, assistant director for Sustainable Communities at Mid Suffolk and Babergh, commented: “I am immensely grateful to the groups and organisations who have pulled together to look after Mid Suffolk’s most vulnerable residents or helped those hit hardest financially by Covid-19.

"Our council’s grant scheme has hopefully provided comfort to many while the virus and its aftermath remains.”

Funding was also approved for walking routes, leisure equipment and local sports clubs over the last 12 months.

This includes more than £50,000 in funding which has been collected from developers building new homes in the district, being put towards new play areas in Badwell Ash and Elmswell, while £36,500 was awarded to Mid Suffolk tennis clubs and a £2,000 discretionary grant was given to establish a new ParkRun at Chilton Fields in Stowmarket. 

The Museum of East Anglian Life – set in 75 acres of beautiful Stowmarket countryside – also received a capital grant of £18,400 towards various improvement works to support its community-focused initiatives.

In addition to grants to improve facilities, the council allocated more than £229,000 in revenue funding to support charities serving residents, including Community Action Suffolk, Homestart, Mid Suffolk Citizens Advice, Rural Coffee Caravan and Lighthouse Women's Aid.

Smaller community projects received a funding boost from Locality Awards – allowing Mid Suffolk District Councillors to individually award grants within their ward – with 230 applications sharing a total of £217,934 during the year.

A new Covid-19 Recovery Grant is set to be launched in May and will enable communities to safely return to normality following the further easing of restrictions.  

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