A charity which has donated millions of pounds to help the coronavirus recovery has revealed an emergency response scheme was set up just weeks before the pandemic hit.
At the start of this year Foundation Scotland was preparing a partnership with the National Emergencies Trust (NET) to allow fast funding to be given following domestic disasters such as flooding or terrorism.
But just weeks later bosses at Foundation Scotland, which delivers crisis grants to charities in need, had to spring into action when the pandemic hit.
In the first 12 days the organisation had dished out £1 million in just 12 days to keep charities afloat and help them support people in crisis.
Helen Wray, head of programmes at Foundation Scotland, said: “We understood we had to be able to quickly distribute emergency funding to meet the immediate needs of the most vulnerable.
“Together [with NET] we could be ready to respond to any domestic disaster that might trigger a fundraising response and require funding distribution, be that potential flooding or terrorist acts.
“Little did we know that within weeks we’d be helping to tackle the effects of a pandemic together.
“Our dedicated response, recovery and resilience fund was the first source of community funding to open in Scotland.
“We worked relentlessly to meet demand and quickly reached those that needed us most.”
In the first five months of the pandemic, the charity had supported more than one million people. By the sixth, they had given out more money than the whole of the previous year.
The number of community groups contacting Foundation Scotland for help also soared by 92%.
Speed was also key and Helen said applications were process in 72 hours to ensure funding could be delivered quickly.
But she also praised the work of local volunteers, who dedicated themselves to the pandemic response.
“Across our 25-year history, we have witnessed first-hand the sector’s incredible potential and capacity at a local level,” Helen said.
“Yet we’ve been amazed at how quickly the community responded and mobilised to this life-changing pandemic.
“We knew we had to be able to support and enable them at a similar pace.”
More than 100 charities and community groups in Tayside and Fife have been among those to benefit from the £3.6m administered by Foundation Scotland.
They include Kirkcaldy YMCA, Perthshire based isolation charity Elder Voice, Angus Creative Minds and Dundee-based Yusuf Youth Initiative.
Yusuf Youth Initiative received a £5,000 grant to provide emergency food and support through it’s foodbank, Taught by Muhammad, after they saw a spike in demand during lockdown.
The charity delivered an “unprecedented” 2,300 parcels to homes in four months during lockdown, compared to the 3,000 normally sent out in a whole year.
Faisal Hussein, chief executive of the initiative, said at the time the “phenomenal” support helped them feed some of the city’s most vulnerable people.
But Helen has warned the fight is not over, with charities facing “unprecedented demand”.
“Looking to the future, we recognise 2021 will be a turbulent year,” she said.
“This crisis will have a long-term impact on the sector, unprecedented demand for services will continue with unparalleled funding demand.
“However, we know the capabilities exist, and so we remain engaged and positive.
“We have moved our fund to the resilience phase this month so while we will continue to provide emergency support for those who need it, we are prioritising support for long-term planning, helping to encourage sustainability, despite the continued uncertainty.”