Coronavirus funding available through grants as trustee urges residents to apply
Residents in Swaffham who are in need of emergency support during the coronavirus outbreak are being urged to apply for grants through a charity.
The Relief in Need charity had previously been set up in 2003 to "support local people in Swaffham in times of hardship".
Set up by the town council, the charity normally meets six times a year to consider applications for funding support.
But charity trustee and town councillor Brendan Holmes said he is prepared to organise emergency meetings to approve grants as soon as they come in.
An Emergency Action Group has been organised by Kurt Oliver of the White Hart pub in Swaffham to distribute essential everyday items to those in need within the town and surrounding villages.
And now Relief in Need is stepping up its support to help those as Government guidelines have become increasingly stringent this week.
Mr Holmes said: "I am desperate to help the residents of the town. I have been speaking to Kurt from the White Hart who is doing a great job organising support but it looks like, according to our processes, we need people and organisations to apply for grants so we can help.
"There aren't a huge amount of conditions relating to what we can help with."
Swaffham Town Council's website currently states that since the start of the Trust, Relief in Need has approved 149 out of 189 applications with over £48,000 being spent on local causes.
Town clerk Richard Bishop did sound a note of caution saying it is a "difficult call" at present because the trustees are unable to hold meetings.
But he said they are reviewing matters "as best they can".
Mr Bishop added: "They are determined to play their part in a community effort in these times of crisis.
"I am aware that they are actively encouraging applications to be made. The situation is on-going at the present time and there is certainly a will to be able to help those in need in Swaffham.
"The trustees have emergency procedures which they can use to assess an urgent need of an individual, they have also in the past helped other charitable organisations where the aims and objectives of the charity are similar.
"In general the message is if you are in need and you live in Swaffham, please apply to the trustees and they will find a way of assessing your application quickly."
He said the trustees will also consider how they can continue to join forces with causes within the community during the crisis period.
For more information on Relief in Need, visit http://www.swaffhamtowncouncil.gov.uk/community/swaffham-town-council-12923/swaffham-relief-in-need/
Following the announcement yesterday that Swaffham's Saturday markets are cancelled for the foreseeable future, the town council is overseeing boxes of fruit and vegetables being delivered to households.
A poster states: "As our amazing customers can't come to our market stall, we will come to you.
"We must look after each other in these difficult times."
And Swaffham's Breckland and county councillor Ed Colman said Breckland are looking at setting up community hubs so that those at risk can access the support they need.
Mr Colman said: "At a time like this, it is about conveying as much information as we can. Communication is key when signposting people to the right services."
He added that the county council's priority is the social care system in this current Covid-19 crisis.
And he said the council are reviewing the suspension of the mobile library service, which caused many residents to email their concerns to Swaffham's county representative.
Mr Colman added: "We are working with parish councils to see if we can get reading material out to people in self-isolation.
"Social isolation is a big problem in general and we are aware of that as a district and as a county council, and we are trying to combat that.
"Everything we can do to make sure care visits are going ahead as normal, and really supporting the work NHS are doing as well, are priorities."
Breckland has created a new Community Support Hub Network which will seek to co-ordinate a team of volunteers to help some of the most vulnerable local people.
This includes those who have been isolated but need deliveries of medicines and food, people who would benefit from welfare phone calls, or simply to cascade updates on latest guidance within communities.
It will be managed by officers from the council who are either community-focused as part of their day to day roles or have been redeployed from non-essential functions to boost the public-facing support available.
People who would like to volunteer – or who are volunteering already – can register online at https://www.voluntarynorfolk.org.uk/register-to-volunteer
The council has suspended all face-to-face interactions at its Customer Contact Centre.
Residents are asked to contact the council via web chat or online forms at www.breckland.gov.uk.
Alternatively, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01362 656870 for urgent queries.
More by this authorBen Hardy