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Grant fund provides support to charities during the pandemic

Hundreds of people struggling during the coronavirus pandemic have received urgent help after local causes received grants from a housing association.

People who were shielding, socially isolated residents, Citizens Advice users and young people needing support from a LGBTQ+ charity have benefited from the £20,000 Community Builders grant.

The vital funds were awarded by Colne Housing, which merged with Greenfields Community Housing in July 2020 to form Eastlight Community Homes.

Eastlight is now encouraging applications to the Braintree District and Eastlight Community Fund, set up with Braintree District Council, which awards grants annually of between £10,000 to £40,000 to support local causes.

Both funds are managed by Essex Community Foundation, who have seen an increase in grant applications since the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Community Builders fund awarded £5,000 to Firstsite and Community 360 who worked in partnership to run a food distribution hub at the Colchester arts venue’s base. The grant was used to fund the facilities needed to keep the hub going for three months.

At the start of the pandemic, more than 110 food parcels a week were being packed daily for those who struggled to access supermarkets.

Colchester and Tendring Youth Enquiry Service (YES) were able to open their Go Green Project at the YES Colchester centre due to a £6,000 grant. The allotment provides valuable volunteering opportunities and alleviates social isolation among young people, by providing an outdoor space where they can come together to learn new skills and improve their mental health.

Jane Blomeley, YES Chief Executive said: “This has been such a positive experience for our clients, linking them into our wider Colchester community.

“They planned, planted, grew and learnt to cook fresh vegetables, turned them into tasty homemade meals and donated our surplus to the Colchester Night Shelter as part of their Healthy Eating initiative for residents.”

Uttlesford Citizens Advice received a £2,500 grant. This funding enabled staff to visit the homes of service users who are unable to travel to the charity’s office.

Outhouse East were awarded £4,500. The Colchester-based charity offers a range of services including counselling, social events, awareness events and HIV/AIDS support for the LGBTQ+ community across Essex. The grant funds a child counsellor who is essential in supporting young people who contact them for additional support.

Emma Palmer, Chief Executive of Eastlight, said: “Thank you to all of these groups for playing such a vital role in addressing the challenges that many in our communities now face during this pandemic.

“If you’re a charity working in the Braintree district, then please find out about our latest grant programme with Essex Community Foundation.”

The Braintree District and Eastlight Community Fund is open until 5pm on Monday 31 August. Please find out more and apply here: or call ECF on 01245 356018.