Call for good causes to come forward as South Tyneside Council chiefs 'struggle to give away' £150,000 in covid cash

Council officials have appealed for more local groups to take advantage of a funding pot aimed at supporting South Tyneside communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 6:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th July 2021, 11:07 am
There is a lot of money going spare for good causes
There is a lot of money going spare for good causes

South Tyneside Council was previously awarded funds from the Government to recruit and deploy Covid Community Champions (CCC) to promote the vaccine and the latest national guidance around coronavirus.

In addition, a fund was made available seeking applications from the voluntary and community sector and other smaller groups for services (both new and existing) supporting the aims of the CCC scheme in the borough.

This included engaging with communities at higher risk of covid, such as ethnic minority groups and those with disabilities.

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Examples of projects ranged from providing materials in different languages and holding open meetings, to assisting with transport to vaccination centres and helping visually impaired people navigate the Government’s Covid-19 road map.

The initiative included micro-grants between £100-£1,000, and larger grants between £5,000-£15,000.

At a meeting of the Riverside Community Area Forum (CAF) this week, it was revealed only four organisations had taken up larger grants while micro-grants had seen “zero uptake.”

The total grants awarded so far equate to around £57,509 across four organisations, with another two large grant applications expected to be signed off this week which would see an additional £20,000 awarded from the fund.

Councillors heard this falls against a backdrop of a large pot of available cash – which stood at £250,000 when the fund was originally launched.

Karri Prinn, project lead for the Covid Community Champions fund, told the CAF that the council was “struggling to give the money away” to groups.

However, she said there was flexibility within the government grant to change aims and objectives to include Covid-recovery and mental health issues so that more projects would be eligible under the fund.

The take-up figures were revealed in response to a question from Green Party councillor David Francis at a CAF meeting on July 6.

During the meeting, councillors were urged to promote the grants to groups across South Tyneside.

Labour councillor Anne Hetherington, cabinet member for independence and wellbeing on the local authority, said she was involved with the fund and that no organisation had been refused a grant so far.

The council chief also confirmed that the organisations/ projects which have received cash to date will have a borough-wide benefit.

Cllr Hetherington added: “[The grants] are something that we’re keen to promote and get out there.

“We have some fantastic voluntary organisations across South Tyneside and we would like to see them benefiting from this money that is sitting there just waiting for people to apply for it.”

Organisations looking to fund projects through the CCC scheme should contact [email protected]

For more information visit: www.inspiresouthtyneside.co.uk

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