Government COVID-19 funding of £3.7million is being used by Essex County Council to support the most vulnerable people in the county this winter.
The County Council has opted to add £200,000 of its own funds to the Government's contribution to support the Essex Wellbeing Service, holiday hunger programmes and to continue the summer camp activity schemes which ran in July, August and October half term, and has pulled together a further package of comprehensive support for those who need help during these difficult times.
Further details from the Council are as follows:
Vulnerable people’s needs are expected to change as we enter another lockdown. Those living in more deprived areas will be more acutely affected and the county council is targeting support for communities and individuals across Essex. Mental health issues, drug and alcohol dependency are known to be on the rise so extra help will be put in place.
The £3.9m support programme will allow for more resources from the county council to be directed to help adults, children and families. The roll out will include the expansion of our holiday hunger programme through to the summer 2021, additional investment in foodbanks, financial assistance for local grassroot organisations and greater levels of advice and support to ensure that Essex residents have a point of contact and a source for advice.
Planned support includes:
- Crisis help: £623,000 for:
- direct support for individuals or families in financial crisis, via food vouchers, energy, bills and white goods, provided by Essex Essential Living Fund
- discretionary hardship funds to support people required to self-isolate who don’t qualify for the government scheme
- volunteer practical and emotional support to vulnerable individuals and families from Essex Wellbeing Service
- Food: £866,500 distributed via Active Essex and Essex Association of Local Councils for
- Extra capacity for food banks
- Holiday Hunger Clubs to support children and their families with food packages and activity clubs in the Christmas, half terms and Easter school holidays – up to summer 2021.
- Essential food packages for care leavers.
- Targeted support for vulnerable families.
- Clinically extremely vulnerable: £910,000 new Government funding to meet basic support needs, food and essentials for those most vulnerable due to Covid.
- Homelessness: £627,000 new funding to provide safe, long-term homes for rough sleepers and others vulnerable to homelessness
- Mental health and emotional support: £555,000 - for mental health, domestic violence, alcohol and substance misuse services to help people in crisis or experiencing poor mental health and issues due to the pandemic.
- Grassroots clubs and activities for children and young people - £134,500 for grants to groups facing financial crisis due to lost income or exceptional costs of making their activities COVID safe. ECC will fund support via the borough, city and district councils who will use local knowledge to distribute the funds to groups within their communities.
- Vital support agencies including the Citizens Advice Bureau will receive a total of £212,500. This money will support community and voluntary organisations and infrastructure agencies.
Further announcements are expected about additional lockdown support for businesses, infrastructure and extra operational costs.
Cllr Louise McKinlay, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Essex County Council, said, “This package of support is very comprehensive in its offer and in many cases will provide a lifeline to people during these difficult times. Our approach is to target those most in need and ensure that the support networks are there so that people are given the advice and guidance that they need.
"Lockdowns are difficult for everyone, however, for some the situation is particularly acute. Our investment in foodbanks and holiday hunger programmes will be invaluable to some families this winter. In addition, it is vitally important that families are able to keep warm. Tackling fuel poverty and winter pressures are key to ensuring that children and their families stay safe."
"As we found with the previous lockdown, prevalence of mental health conditions is on the rise, and certainly with colder weather on its way, there will be less opportunity for people to get out and about. This is why intervention around mental health and supporting those grassroots clubs and activities are so vital at this time. This package demonstrates ECC’s commitment to targeting support to the most vulnerable at this tough time.”