A new fund established by local funders has paid out its first round of grants this week, supporting community groups who are experiencing increased demand and/or funding shortfall as a result of COVID-19.
The twelve community groups have received a total of $76,869 in funding from the Rapid Response Fund, established by TECT, Acorn Foundation, BayTrust and Tauranga City Council.
The community groups supported include Tauranga Living Without Violence, Street Kai, Tauranga Community Foodbank, EmpowermentNZ, Pirirakau Hauora, Nepalese Association in BOP, Te Puna Hauora, Te Manu Toroa, The Salvation Army NZ Trust, Cancer Society Waikato/BOP, The Search Party Charitable Trust Te Puke and Reach Out Trust (Katikati Foodbank).
While the lockdown has created a lull for many businesses, community groups supporting those most vulnerable in our community are busier than ever, with the lockdown conditions creating a strain on people’s finances, wellbeing and mental health.
Tauranga Community Foodbank Manager Nicki Goodwin says the $12,000 in funding they received from the Rapid Response Fund would go towards the additional food purchases and staffing required to keep up with demand.
“We are so relieved to be able to continue to help our community during this difficult time. We’ve issued 39% more parcels compared to this time last year and we are speaking with a lot of people who haven’t needed to use our service before now. It’s incredibly tough on them.
“We are grateful our local funders have come together to make it quick and simple to get this additional funding so we can feed the many families in need around our region.”
Tauranga Living Without Violence General Manager Paula Naude says that while this is a stressful time for everyone, those dealing with already fraught relationships were at greater risk.
“During the lockdown, victims of violence may not be able to access telephones, internet or other outside sources if they’re living with their abuser. Even if they can, they may be less likely to report given heightened anxieties about accommodation, financial resources and the ‘safe bubble’ of the whānau/family unit.
“Our caseworkers are working remotely to ensure we can continue to support victims of violence. This Rapid Response funding will allow us to purchase webcams, we have increased our mobile phone packages and we are creating a private, social platform for victims and perpetrators whilst in lockdown, moderated by our agency. We urge anyone who is feeling unsafe to contact us.”
Being new to the region is particularly difficult. With accommodation tough to secure, and no wage subsidy for those in the midst of job hunting, Nepali students and newcomers have the support of the Nepalese Association in BOP.
“We have received over 100 applications from those in need and we’ve been working hard to put together grocery packs.
“The $3,000 in funding we received through the Rapid Response Fund will go a long way to ensuring we can look after the Nepali newcomers and students in our region, so they can continue their studies and their life here in our wonderful community,” says Nepalese Association in BOP General Secretary Anish Paudel.
TECT General Manager Wayne Werder says that community groups’ role in our region is more vital than ever.
“We are all going through this together, but invariably, it is the most vulnerable who will suffer most. Domestic violence victims are trapped inside with their abuser, the isolated elderly are at significant risk of infection while lacking much-needed social contact, the homeless are more vulnerable than ever and those new to the region are cut off from their support lifelines.”
“We are pleased that together with local funders we can help community groups support those disproportionately affected by this crisis.”
The funding, initially made available to those community groups providing essential services as defined by the government, will be opened up to the wider not-for-profit sector next week.