Half a million donated to emergency fund
More than $500,000 has been donated to an emergency fund to help the island’s most vulnerable people as charities battle to meet hardships caused by the Covid-19 crisis.
About 80 donors have contributed to the Bermuda Community Fund-administered reserve, with $450,000 already earmarked for services delivered by non-profit organisations this week.
David Burt, the Premier, said earlier: “We hope the public will continue to give as the needs are great and are expected to grow.”
He added: “This money is being spent in areas critical to helping us manage this pandemic based on international standards for national disasters, and in tandem with the priorities of the Emergency Measures Organisation and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation team.
“We have to make sure that our most vulnerable people are fed, our homeless are sheltered, women and children who are at-risk, are housed safely.
“We have to ensure that people who need medication have access to it and those who find themselves struggling to cope, know where they can get help.”
Mr Burt thanked the Third Sector Co-ordinated Crisis Response Effort — CCRE — which was working “behind the scenes” to allocate the cash.
A spokeswoman for the CCRE said last week: “The outpouring of support and requests to assist the community have been amazing.
“Many organisations have already jumped in and helped out with some early needs, funding and offers of supplies and food.
She appealed for more “organisations or individuals able to contribute cash, gifts in kind, supplies or other needed items” to pitch in.
The spokeswoman said: “We have a giving survey which we ask people to complete. This will make it much easier to quantify resources available, co-ordinate and match resources with needs.”
She said that no fees would be charged and 100 per cent of the donations would go to good causes.
The CCRE spokeswoman added: “We need to make sure this sector is sustained for the future of our community and not just through the immediate crisis.”
The CCRE group was formed last month after it became clear there would be a “serious need” for charitable efforts when the economic impact of the coronavirus hit the island.
The CCRE spokeswoman said: “The Bermuda Community Foundation and Bank of Bermuda Foundation, as charitable foundations, were reviewing how we could mitigate the massive burden that was about to be placed on so many in our community.
“Even before the arrival of the coronavirus, Bermuda’s non-profits were feeling the significant effects of financial and operational challenges.”
She added: “At the same time, we had to develop a plan that would enable the non-profits to do their jobs of responding to this impending emergency.
“Their services were going to be needed more than ever, but they would need our support.”
The CCRE also includes the Bermuda Health Council, the Inter-Agency Committee for Children and Families, Age Concern Bermuda as well as Danielle Riviere, a former executive director of the Centre on Philanthropy, and Tina Nash, a former executive director of Raleigh International Bermuda.
Representatives sit on an EMO subgroup chaired by Steve Cosham, the National Disaster Co-ordinator.
The spokeswoman added: “Having a seat at the table has been critical for the CCRE, enabling us to align our efforts with the national plan of work.
“Involving the third sector at this level is a welcome first for Bermuda, and acknowledges the crucial contribution made by the non-profit community.”
She emphasised the CCRE was not set up to replace services or programmes, but to act as a co-ordinator to link resources to those in need.
The spokeswoman said: “Many companies and individuals want to give, but are unsure of the most urgent requirements.
“We can help by creating a central collaborative effort to direct their resources towards the most pressing needs.”
Online surveys were also used to determine what was required by non-profit organisations, churches and other groups.
The spokeswoman added that charities were “unable to work, have no volunteers, their fragile funding bases have been hit and fees for service have stopped”.
She explained: “One of the specific challenges is that a significant number of volunteers in our community are senior citizens and they are now vulnerable to the coronavirus and need to stay home.
“This has created an immediate shortage of volunteers.
“Feeding programmes have been particularly challenged to provide food and deliver meals as a result.
“Non-profits operate on a shoestring budget — volunteers are the lifeblood of their work and so this has become a serious issue.
“Organisations such as counselling and addiction support services have had to transition from walk-in facilities to virtual online models. However, not all are equipped to do so, which has led to cuts in service.”
Donations to the Emergency Fund have already been used for food distribution, seniors’ care, help for victims of domestic violence and mental health problems as well as assistance to the homeless.
• To contribute to the Emergency Fund, visit bcf.bm. Follow the CCRE Facebook page at facebook.com/ThirdSectorCoordinated CrisisResponseEffort
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