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Tees Valley Community Foundation (TVCF) is providing assistance to local groups who are working to relieve the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

TVCF, which has been helping local charities and community groups by distributing grants for more than 30 years, is providing fast-track access to the Teesside Emergency Relief Fund (TERF).

The fund was set up by local councils in the 1970s to provide emergency grants to assist individuals living in Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton on Tees and Redcar & Cleveland who are faced with an emergency or crisis.

The fund is operated as a third party grant meaning individuals cannot apply directly – applications must be submitted by a support organisation who has detailed knowledge of the need or beneficiary.

Jonelle Bain, donor services officer at TVCF, said: “Through the TERF fund we are issuing much-needed grants daily to groups who are on the ground and are working to relieve the direct impact of the pandemic.

“As with the rest of the world, this situation is evolving by the day for the people of the Tees Valley – our whole team is focussed on the situation and we’re communicating daily with groups who are discovering vulnerable people who have found themselves falling through the gaps out there,” she said.

“We are working with community groups to establish where the gaps are and where money is needed to help people, quickly.”

Among some of the charitable groups helped by the TVCF in recent days is Leo’s Neonatal, which supports families through preteen and traumatic births. With restrictions on access to hospitals and anxiety levels on the rise, the charity is responding with well-being care packages, which include things like journals, mindfulness colour books, soothing candles and bath salts. And for siblings who can’t attend wards there are craft sets, teddies, colouring sets and worry monsters to hep with concerned little minds.

TVCF has granted the charity £1000 to help provide this service. Lottie King, founder of Leo’s, said: “Mental health of neonatal families is so important right now, making sure we can help manage anxiety, manage the worries, and support them in the community once they’re home is what our sole focus is at the moment.

“Being able to send out dedicated care packages to families is something we are so passionate and proud to do, and we’re supporting small businesses where possible to keep the economy going so a huge thanks to TVCF for their help with this.”

Stockton-based Little Spouts, which usually provides free meals, cooking and food education projects to vulnerable families, has been inundated with requests for help. Co-owner, Neta Kaur-Brown, said: “We are delivering 50 meals per day, three days per week and our revenue streams have been affected so the support from TVCF is very welcome.

“Because many of the foodbanks that were available before lockdown have closed due to those running them being in insolation, we are experiencing a huge increase in demand for support – particularly with people needing help with shopping.”

Applications are usually restricted to one grant per year – this has now been relaxed to provide this urgent support where it is needed.

“In an effort to be as responsive as possible in these unprecedented times, we have lifted the ‘one application per year’ restriction,” said Ms Bain. “This means those who need funds can repeatedly apply for help as needed throughout this evolving situation.”

Groups can contact TVCF through all the usual routes – calls to the main number are being diverted to the team but using the website’s online form or messaging via Facebook is requested where possible.

Whilst TVCF is still processing general grant applications, it is prioritising requests from those groups who are directly responding to the impact of Covid-19 – applications for other purposes will be processed but may experience a slight delay.

Tees Valley Community Foundation’s mission is to empower local communities to address disadvantage and exclusion – it has distributed more than £35m to more than one million beneficiaries in the last 30 years.

www.teesvalleyfoundation.org