18 months into Covid, we ask what are the needs of local charities?

Four white elders including one wheelchair user and carerInns Court Residents Group members (to the far left Ted Bowden, Vice Chair RIP)

23 September 2021 marked 18 months to the day since Quartet made its first Covid Emergency Response Grant

It was a time of enormous upheaval and uncertainty. It was a time when so many of you stepped up to help us and the communities in your midst.

We’ve supported 1000+ projects such as Inns Court Residents Group since our first Covid grants in March 2020: the are pictured above with their Vice Chair, Ted Bowden (seated, far left), who’s now sadly passed away.

Since then, we haven’t stopped, responding to each changing phase of the pandemic with new funding streams for local organisations, including a programme of Resilience grants. Now, as we move into autumn, we’re beginning to make our new Recovery grants.

We thought you’d like to hear from some of the organisations who received those early grants. We catch up with Talking Money advice service, who outline how they’ve responded to the pandemic, and highlight the needs they’re seeing today. We also hear from Caring in Bristol about their work to support our homeless citizens. 

Preventing homelessness: Caring in Bristol

With Bristol one of only two core cities where homelessness is rising, we speak to Steven Dodds, Head of Partnerships and Impact at Caring in Bristol about the needs they’re seeing – and how we can all help local people experiencing homelessness. 

Getting people off the streets and into safety in lockdown 1:0

“When the pandemic first happened, ‘Everyone In’ was a massive intervention,” explains Steven Dodds, “the Government-funded scheme temporarily housed people experiencing homelessness – primarily those sleeping rough – in self-contained accommodation during the first wave of the pandemic. According to government estimates, 90% of people rough sleeping were given an offer of accommodation via Everyone In (Kerslake Commission Interm Report)“.

The pandemic changed the shape of homelessness

Caring in Bristol responded to the pandemic by launching the Cheers Drive project, providing hot meals, activities and care to people experiencing homelessness in Bristol.

  • at its peak Cheers Drive was feeding over 350 people a day living in hotels and hostels across Bristol
  • in total Caring in Bristol supported over 850 people through Cheers Drive.

The project has slowly wound down and the hotels are back to their normal business.

Advice service: Talking Money

Quality, accessible advice

Throughout the pandemic, the need for quality, accessible advice has been key. This need continues as local people struggle with debt, surviving on minimum wage jobs, rising fuel bills, the end of furlough, rising housing costs and changes in state benefits, among other issues. As one of the first charities to receive our Covid response grants in March 2020, we hear from Anna Brown Talking Money‘s Chief Executive about how they responded – and the needs they’re seeing this autumn.

How is your service shifting this autumn?

Anna Brown, Talking Money Chief Executive:

“With high vaccination levels across the country and an attitude of some return to normality with other sectors reopening, we felt it important to offer clients the option of face-to-face support when they request help.

“All clients are now offered the choice of face-to-face, video link or telephone appointments. 

“So far, 42% have chosen to have their advice session face-to-face and the remainder have chosen a telephone session.”

Overnight shift from office to home working

In March 2020 Talking Money switched from office based to home working in just 48 hours. This move has remained longer-term, but they’ve continued to be quick to respond to their clients’ needs. So, when we were first out of lockdown in summer 2020, they started to re-introduce some face-to-face work for clients who could only access help in this way. 

Many clients can’t get online

When so many organisations moved to online working, this just wasn’t suitable for Talking Money as Anna explains:

“We were able to offer online video link meetings to clients from an early point in the pandemic but found that most clients didn’t have the equipment and/or the knowledge to use this effectively.

“From September 2020, we reinstated some outreach sessions at a local venue, and we used video-link with volunteers helping clients to get onto the equipment and a Talking Money adviser assisting them digitally from home.”

Growing need for support from clients twinned with difficult funding environment

Anna Brown, Talking Money Chief Executive:

“The funding environment has become increasingly competitive and challenging over the last 10 years, including cuts to some statutory funding. This has occurred in tandem with growing demand for our services due to greater numbers of people experiencing poverty and the complexity of people’s lives increasing.” Consequently, Talking Money are actively looking for new funding and grant opportunities to support this vital work.”


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