Families in Leasowe and Moreton that have been hard-hit by the pandemic can now be helped by local community and voluntary groups. The Council has agreed how an extra £1.2 million government grant will be spent to support struggling families across the Borough.
So far, Wirral Council has been given more than £170 million by the Government to support businesses, families, care homes and to keep vital local services running.
The extra £1.2 million of funding to Wirral under the government’s COVID-19 Winter Grant Scheme will help ensure that children, families and vulnerable individuals do not go hungry or without utilities and other essential items during the winter months.
Local campaigner and Moreton resident Debbie Caplin said: "While many people have been supported, in various ways, by the extra £170 million the Council has received, we know from the work done by Marcus Rashford that some families were still at risk of falling through the net over the winter period. This extra £1.2 million will make sure that no child, or their family, in Leasowe, Moreton or across Wirral need struggle with the basics."
The funding is being allocated to a range of community and voluntary sector partners, including Citizens Advice Wirral, Energy Projects Plus, Wirral Foodbank, Involve Northwest, Wirral Development Trust, Feeding Birkenhead, Neo Community.
One of the local organisations to benefit is the Sandbrook Community Centre with a grant of £10,000 for local residents hardest-hit by the pandemic.
Across Wirral, the funding will be used to deliver the following projects:
• Food & activities holiday provision for school and nursery age children - £385,000 allocated
Co-ordinated by Neo Community in partnership with Wirral’s community food providers, this project will provide breakfast and lunch over the Christmas school holiday and February half-term for over 6,300 local children, targeted at families with children who normally receive free school meals and more than 1,100 nursery school aged children. The application process is being led by Neo Community - phone 0151 647 5981, email email@example.com
• COVID Winter Fund - Small Grants Programme - £250,000
Community-based food and welfare support providers were invited to bid for grants of up to £10,000 to ensure food and essential supplies are available to those most in need over the winter months. The programme was oversubscribed, 38 groups were successful and have been awarded funding to combined total of £255,570. These groups will have until 31 March 2021 to spend their grant.
• Financial support with energy and water bills debt - £200,000
This project will provide crisis support for vulnerable households who are having severe difficulties with water and energy bills. This support is being led by Citizens Advice Wirral and Energy Projects Plus and is anticipated to help more than 400 households, who have suffered due to the impacts of COVID-19, break the cycle of debt and avoid acute problems over the winter months. Ask Us Wirral can be reached on 0808 278 7848.
• Financial support with crisis energy costs - £100,000
The project will be delivered through a partnership with the Fuelbank Foundation charity, providing emergency fuel vouchers to those in crisis, receiving referrals from the Council and local referral partners including Involve Northwest, Energy Projects Plus and Citizens Advice Wirral. Referrals can be made directly through any of partner organisations, or through the council’s channels – 0151 666 5050 or www.wirral.gov.uk/welfaresupport
• Financial support with welfare needs - £80,000
This project will provide emergency support for people in crisis, offering financial help towards specialist food, clothing and other essential items such as cooking appliances and washing machines. It will also allow the project to cover the cost of winter school shoes for the first time. Referrals and requests can be made through the Council's Coronavirus helpline 0151 666 5050.
• Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service 'Safe and Well’ (crisis heating and winter warm packs) - £37,000
The funding will allow Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, through its ‘Warm & Well’ visits to vulnerable households, to provide up to 400 temporary-use oil filled radiators. It will provide up to 1,300 winter warmth packs containing a scarf, gloves, socks, blanket, mug and gilet. The initiative will also encourage elderly recipients to explore further support from local voluntary groups and will link with Age UK Wirral’s Big Community Check-in campaign. This service can be accessed by calling 0800 731 5958.
• Emergency Heating Engineer - £30,000
This project will help around 120 households in financial crisis who need to call out a heating engineer or plumber in emergency circumstances over the winter months. Delivered in partnership with Wirral-based charity Energy Projects Plus, it will help vulnerable people who are at risk of being left without heat and householders turning to unqualified or unscrupulous tradespeople and loan sharks, adding to existing debt. Referrals can be made through the Coronavirus helpline 0151 666 5050 or directly to Energy Projects Plus, who will assess eligibility for help.
• Crisis support with essential white goods - £30,000
This has been assigned to provide white goods, such as cookers and washing machines, to vulnerable households; this support will be delivered by North Birkenhead Development Trust and St Vincent de Paul Society (Moreton). Both have borough-wide coverage. Referrals can be managed through the Coronavirus helpline 0151 666 5050, but professionals such as family support workers and social workers will also be advised of the scheme so they can promote it to those they are working with.
Article © Ian Lewis 2020