A FUND launched to help small charities and community groups across the county tackle the effects of the pandemic has broken the £1million barrier.
The Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Appeal launched on March 20 and besides racking up the enormous total, the fund has already distributed more than £650,000 to almost 170 community groups.
Co-interim chief executive Fiona Oliver said the help of the public has been remarkable.
“We are truly thankful for what has been an overwhelming response to this appeal,” she said.
“When we launched, we were hopeful of raising £50,000 and then we reset that to £150,000. The money kept coming in and we set a new target of £500,000 and then when we passed that we aimed at £1million.
“Now the incredible generosity of people in the county has taken us past this and we’ve revised our target again to £1.5 million.”
As well as public support, the fund has been boosted by donations from charitable trusts and businesses including the Zurich Community Trust, Wessex Water, Thames Water, the Oakfield Development and the Police and Crime Commissioner’s fund.
The groups benefitting have included foodbanks and youth projects, to those caring for the elderly and people with disabilities.
The fund has helped long-established charities including Age UK and Wiltshire Sight as well as groups that sprang up specifically to deal with the crisis, such as Shield Wiltshire.
This group produced 20,000 plastic visors for frontline workers and was awarded £4,000 from the fund.
Founder Anette Alchin said: “We discovered amazing community spirit when we started up and the Wiltshire Community Foundation grant really helped us, it was fantastic.”
Wilton HELP was given £2,600 to mobilise more than 100 volunteers to do shopping and collect prescriptions for elderly and vulnerable people.
Wilton Town Council operations manager Steve Milton said: “The grant was great, and we were very grateful because it allowed us to keep going and match the commitment of our brilliant volunteers.”
Salisbury MP John Glen said: “I send them my warmest congratulations. It is a testament to how highly regarded they are in the community and in charitable circles.
“The community foundation is a truly local charity that has no dogma guiding its philanthropy and can adapt and rise to meet any challenge the people of Wiltshire face. The county is lucky to have them.”