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Honor Morris, Grants Administrator, reflects on the use of our hardship grants during the pandemic

The London Catalyst Samaritan Grant scheme continues to be an important resource for charities and organisations. It helps frontline agencies provide immediate assistance to people in emergency circumstances through the provision of a hardship fund. During the coronavirus pandemic our Samaritan Grants have proved more vital than ever. Since March we have released almost £42,000 to over 35 agencies to help them deal with the effects of Coronavirus, adapt their services and ultimately provide aid to those most in need 

Many organisations have unsurprisingly experienced an increase in need for their services. The Elfrida Society, which provides support for adults with Learning Disabilities, received a Samaritan Grant in April. This helped to deal with the sharp rise in demand for support particularly from the elderly or those with complex health conditions facing destitution or hardship as a result of COVID-19. Similarly, Birth Companions, a charity supporting women facing severe disadvantage during pregnancy and early motherhood, saw an increase in the practical support women required as a result of the Coronavirus restrictions. Funds from their Samaritan Grant enabled the charity to help women access essential items such as nappies and baby wipes. It also enabled safer transport options for pregnant women travelling to and from hospital. 

The Samaritan Grants have also assisted organisations who have had to modify the support they can offer as a result of the suspension of face to face services in line with government restrictions. To ensure that staff, volunteers and service users are kept safe during the pandemic many organisations have had to close their public spaces and walk in centres. Many have set up remote contact centres to continue to provide aid and assistance. Body and Soul, an organisation which supports those dealing with the life-threatening adversity of childhood trauma, have taken their support online. Through telephone calls and Zoom workshops Body and Soul are continuing to provide emotional support to their service users. Alongside this their Samaritan Grant enables them to provide financial support to those whose material suffering has increased as a result of COVID-19. Other organisations have been able to develop alternative methods to provide food and essentials to those most in need supported by the Samaritan Grant scheme. Bonny Downs Community Association were able to set up an emergency free food and essential items delivery service to support the vulnerable elderly in Newham. The Refugee Council also utilised their Samaritan Grant to provide supermarket vouchers to their clients who suffered as the support services they would normally rely on had closed. 

As organisations are forced to adapt to changing circumstances our Samaritan Grants play an essential role in enabling them to continue to provide uninterrupted support and services. However, the Samaritan Grant scheme is only made possible by the funds we are able to raise throughout the year. Our annual ‘Hospital Sunday Appeal’ which raises vital funds for the Samaritan Grants has incredible importance this year. The money we raise will ensure that we are able to give ongoing support to organisations during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. This year’s appeal falls on Sunday 14th June and all the money we raise will go towards providing emergency relief and making an immediate impact on the lives of those who are vulnerable. With your support we can continue to assist the crucial work of London’s frontline health and social services. Find out more information on how to donate through this link

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