Over $103,000 in funding was approved last week through the Rapid Response Fund, supporting nine community groups facing increased demand as a result of COVID-19.
This second round of funding supported a wide range of community groups, from food support and shelter for the homeless, to foster care services and health care providers.
The groups include Awhina House, Homes of Hope, Open Home Foundation, Te Tuinga Whanau Support, Nga Kakano Foundation, Pacific Island Community Trust, Good Neighbour Aotearoa Trust, Under the Stars, and Beyond Imagination (Curate Church).
While staying home may be a struggle we’ve slowly gotten used to, for many in our community, having a place to call home and stay safe is all they wish for.
Awhina House General Manager Angela Wallace says they provide a home for women who would otherwise be sleeping rough and living in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions.
“Homeless women are amongst the most vulnerable to COVID-19 due to a high level of smoking and weak immune systems. Years of living in poverty have taken a toll on their health, and they may be mixing with others who are living in unsanitary conditions.”
“The funding we received through the Rapid Response Fund will cover the purchase of PPE, tech items to enable remote working, additional cleaning and hygiene supplies, increased staffing costs, hire of linen and increased laundry costs.
“These costs add up quickly but are essential to ensure we can keep our vulnerable women and staff safe. We want to say a big thank you to our local funders for their generous support during this time.”
Homes of Hope, which provides foster care to abused and neglected children, has seen a significant rise in expenses with children now home-based 24/7 for the foreseeable future.
“Because of their high needs, we require a high ratio of adults to children. This has required a restructuring of care hours worked to keep both our children and caregivers safe and well attended to throughout COVID 19,” says Homes of Hope Communications and Funding Administrator Pam French.
“Some expenses such as groceries are no longer being donated or delivered, and cleaners who have donated their time to us in the past can no longer help out, so we have had to increase our internal wage costs. We are so grateful for the funding received through the Rapid Response Fund, which will help us cover some of these costs.”
For Pacific Island Community Trust, the $12,000 they received in funding will go towards the cost of increased hours of staff during the lockdown period, purchasing bulk food items, fuel to deliver food parcels and printing costs for translating COVID-19 information into various Pasifika languages.
Pacific Island Community Trust CEO Esther Martin says the most urgent needs for our community are food supplies, rent costs, utilities and clothing.
“While we are unable to assist our vulnerable clients with funds to pay for rent and utilities, we have been providing families with food parcels which frees up some of their money to be used for rent. In the past four weeks, we have delivered food packages to 225 families across Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.
“With this funding, we will be able to provide 30 more food parcels, warm clothing and blankets, and ensure our community is informed around COVID-19 as we move down the lockdown levels. Thank you TECT, Acorn Foundation, BayTrust and Tauranga City Council for ensuring the process was quick and simple so we can manage the significant increase in demand for our services.”
TECT General Manager Wayne Werder says while the lockdown has moved down to Level 3, community groups supporting those disproportionately affected by this crisis will be feeling the strain for many months to come.
“Not only are more of our neighbours, friends and family seeking support from these groups in light of job losses, mental health issues and financial stress, but many funding avenues for these community groups have simply stopped.
“It’s a double-edged sword, and we can’t know for sure how long it will last. We do know this boost in funding will be extremely beneficial for these community groups, ensuring our people are fed and cared for, and the groups can survive.”
Since opening the Rapid Response Fund, local funders TECT, Acorn Foundation, BayTrust and Tauranga City Council have jointly supported 21 community groups with $180,000 in funding.
To read more about the Rapid Response Fund, click here.