NET to distribute £12m to groups most impacted by pandemic

20 Aug 2020 News

The National Emergencies Trust (NET) will distribute £12m to groups that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and underserved by emergency funds so far.

The charity has raised £87.25m through its coronavirus emergency appeal, some £64m of which has been distributed to local charities and communities through membership body UK Community Foundations.

A further £12m will now go to organisations supporting communities that have not been adequately reached by emergency funding so far. NET conducted a gap analysis of both its own grants and external funding sources to identify those groups.

NET has only awarded the first £2m of those funds, which will go to disability support network DPO COVID-19 Coalition, led by Disability Action NI, and to LGBT+ Consortium. More funding partners will be announced “in the coming weeks”.

“Decisions on awarding of these onward grants will be made by people with lived experience of the issues faced,” NET said.

NET was initially criticised for not acting quickly enough to ensure equitable distribution of emergency funding. It has since announced a £2.75m partnership with Comic Relief to distribute funds to BAME-led charities and a £250,000 fund for BAME-led infrastructure organisations.

In June it also released data according to which about a sixth of all NET funds distributed by UK Community Foundations have gone to “groups whose primary audience is BAME communities”. 

Partners that ‘reach into the depths’ of their community

Marcia Asare, independent grants assessor for NET, said what NET has done to ensure the £12m is awarded to the organisations best placed to support at-risk communities “is work one can be really proud of”.

She said: “As a national funder, it's very difficult to really get into the community, to get the funding to those who are most in need. 

“I think the work they've done, the checks and balances they've done, the committees and processes that they've had, have meant that ultimately, for applications to be successful, it was not good enough to just be a service deliverer. It was not good enough to just say, at the top surface level, ‘I support x community’. 

“What you really had to demonstrate is how you were reaching into the depths of your community, how you would reach all the different groups within it. A lot of work went into ensuring that those questions were answered.”

Focus on helplines

NET also said the funding will focus on supporting helplines and specialist advice and support services for people at risk. Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline, one of the members of LGBT+ Consortium, has seen a 35% increase in calls on last year.

Gerald Oppenheim, deputy chair of NET, said: “By providing specialist support for certain needs and at-risk groups, our new partners will help the thousands of at risk people who find it harder to access help and who have been more difficult for us to reach so far. 

“Helpline services will feature prominently as they offer a lifeline for those less able to leave their homes, those seeking advice from someone like them, and those who are looking for charity support for the first time due to the sudden and extraordinary circumstances caused by coronavirus but are unsure where to turn.”

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