May 12, 2020 @ 9:53 by Alison Cowie
The Coalfields Regeneration Trust – the organisation dedicated to supporting the 5.7 million people living in former mining communities throughout the UK – has opened a new Coalfields COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Fund in the North East.
Acting as an interim replacement for the Coalfields Community Investment Programme (CCIP), which provides £550,000 to eligible organisations annually, the new Coalfields COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Fund will provide better support for the delivery and sustainability of key services during the current crisis.
Head of operations (England) for the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Andy Lock, said: “We recognise the incredible response our coalfield communities have had to the COVID-19 crisis and have altered our funding support so that we can address local needs during this difficult time.
“As part of the fund, we will continue to offer grants of up to £10,000 to eligible community-based organisations and our focus will remain on employment, skills and health and wellbeing.
“However, priority will be given to applicants that are delivering support, or who are having to significantly adapt their services, to respond to the pandemic and still assist vulnerable groups.
“Applications will also be reviewed more frequently so that these funds can be used when and where they are needed the most. We’re also proud to continue to offer our free practical support service remotely for organisations in coalfield areas.”
Now in its fifth year, the Coalfields Community Investment Programme has already awarded more than £2 million to community groups across the UK, delivering initiatives that provide a social impact and have a positive influence on former mining neighbourhoods. In recognition of the disproportionate impact COVID-19 is having within coalfields, the £550,000 2020 annual programme has increased by £50,000.
Andy Lock continues: “Our community-based organisations are in crisis. Despite the fact that demand for their services and support is at an all-time high, many have had to close temporarily, furlough team members or significantly reduce their services to protect reserves and cash flow so that they can survive longer-term.
“In other instances, diversifying to deliver services in different ways is the only option. This requires much-needed skills, support and additional funding. This is why our new fund and practical support is more important than ever before.”
“As recently revealed in our State of the Coalfields 2019 report, 42 per cent of residents in our communities sit within the 30 per cent most deprived in the UK. We must do something to change this. By redirecting funds to help organisations through COVID-19 and beyond and by focusing on employment, skills and health and wellbeing we can help to reduce the negative impact of this pandemic and give future generations a more aspirational outlook.
“This is just one example of how our efforts improve the lives of people living within former mining communities, but much more needs to be done. We know that if we are to see lasting change for generations, we need a dedicated commitment from Government. That is why we are calling for a ring-fenced Coalfield Investment Fund, which will be used to tackle the many and varied challenges that still exist.”