Throughout the many months of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions there have been a number of Chichester’s residents who have faced incredible hardships, but who have received vital support thanks to a hugely positive initiative inspired by Chichester’s Mayor, Councillor Richard Plowman’s, response to the situation. The Mayor’s Hardship Fund was developed in May 2020, and since then has gone on to provide over £11,000 worth of support to those in greatest need.
The Fund, which is now coming to a close as restrictions lift and traditional services return to care for those facing hardships, supported 58 individuals and organisations throughout the last twelve months. This was possible through the collaboration and partnership between Chichester City Council, Chichester Welfare Trusts and the Chichester Community Development Trust.
Cllr Richard Plowman spoke of the success of the programme saying, “Following discussions with the newly formed Chichester Community Network, I was painfully aware
of the plight of many people within the city, and how the pandemic’s restrictions on support and services was going to exacerbate this for many, along with job losses and financial hardships. Myself and my colleagues were keen to provide an immediate and practical response, and to ensure that those in greatest need could receive practical help without extensive bureaucracy causing delays. The incredibly positive collaboration between The City Council, Welfare Trusts and Chichester Community Development Trust was a very powerful, productive and positive force. We are delighted with the outcome of this project.”
In addition to the direct support received by many, referrals were also made to the Chichester Welfare Trusts for those needing ongoing support. Practical tasks undertaken by the Mayor’s Hardship Fund team included supporting individuals with food shopping, replacing broken white goods, replacing broken ovens and other cooking equipment and supporting individuals with travel, amongst other tasks.
Ruth Taunt, the Welfare Officer for the Trusts, has said, “It has been a privilege to speak with many individuals who, despite their own difficulties, have retained a warmth, generosity of spirit, and sense of humour. In many instances they have continued to give to their own communities regardless of the very real hardships and uncertainties they have themselves experienced. Moreover the thanks and feedback we have received has been most moving, and in turn we would like to pass on our thanks to all of those who have been involved in this Fund – in donating money, supporting the distribution of goods and referring individuals in need of support.”