Nearly £250,000 distributed to Barnsley community groups during the Covid-19 pandemic

Community groups in Barnsley received nearly £250,000 to help them deliver vital services and support during the Covid-19 pandemic, in a new report published by South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF).

Grants of up to £5,000 were distributed to 67 community groups as the pandemic began in March 2020, with SYCF initiating a host of changes to their grants processes to make sure funds were distributed swiftly in those exceptional times.

This resulted in communities across Barnsley receiving invaluable help with 82,335 people being supported through the amazing commitment of over 3,021 volunteers, with 47% of the total funding given to groups advancing people’s physical and mental health, wellbeing and safety.

The SYCF Covid-19 Response Awards and the Response and Recovery Awards allowed community organisations to support people with their mental health, addressing social isolation and providing information and advice, which was particularly important in sharing public health messages.

SYCF Chief Executive Ruth E Willis, said: “As a grant giving organisation in a national emergency, we understood the need to distribute funds smoothly and allow community groups to start their activities such as delivering food parcels, picking up prescriptions, and I.T equipment for young people to continue their studies.”

Activities carried out by community groups included befriending services so people self-isolating had regular contact, activity packs and outdoor activities for children, provision and delivery of food parcels and NHS workers receiving free transport to and from work.

Exodus Project supported vulnerable people across Barnsley during the Covid-19 outbreak, including families with children eligible for free school meals, older people, those with long term health conditions and pregnant women.

Martin Sawdon, Exodus Project’s Development Manager, said: “At the height of the pandemic, the grant meant so much to so many. Exodus were able to respond to local need and the comments we received showed the impact it had on people. Thank you to Trustees and decision makers at SYCF for making it possible.”

Over 30% of SYCF’s Response and Recovery grants were distributed to Barnsley organisations supporting Black, Asian and other minoritized communities, to reflect the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 they experienced. There were also webinars that were delivered to encourage applications from diverse communities.

“The societal impact of Covid-19 has been demonstrated in the Vital Signs 2021 report, which shows the ever more importance of community groups to provide a lifelife for communities across South Yorkshire,” said Chris Booth-Mayblin, chair of SYCF.

SYCF’s Vital Signs 2021 report, through official data and community feedback, identified Crime and Safety, Disadvantage and Inequality, Work and the Local Economy, and Mental Health, as the four most important needs in South Yorkshire.

Unemployment while young is linked to long-term reductions in wages, increased chances of subsequent periods of unemployment, and poorer health outcomes. Vital Signs led to the launch of a themed programme, called “Moving On Up”, allowing community groups to support young people with pre-employment skills and employability opportunities.

The full report is available at

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