The Church of Scotland has welcomed a new £350 million fund intended to directly support communities who are or will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Scottish Government is encouraging organisations – including churches – to apply to the Supporting Communities Fund if they feel they can quickly and effectively meet the needs of their communities with additional resources.
Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, convener of the Faith Impact Forum of the Church of Scotland, said the fund will make a “huge difference” to individuals and families.
Dr Brown said:
“The Church of Scotland stands for the Gospel imperative to love our neighbours and to care for creation.
“I welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to the health and well being of our nation at this time.
“In the light of the additional half a million people across the UK who have applied for Universal Credit in the last few days, I welcome in particular the investment in food access.
“This will make a huge difference to the physical and mental well-being of individuals and families who face a frightening struggle to make ends meet over the coming days and to those who are having to self-isolate.
“In addition, the money being invested in supporting communities to be resilient, caring and healthy will go some way to helping those communities to come through this experience and to re-build life beyond COVID-19.
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell announced the new fund in the Scottish Parliament. She said:
“We want to show our support to all sectors and people in Scotland.
“This will mean through funding, through communication, and through our actions.
“Scotland’s response to this pandemic will require everyone – councils, the third sector, businesses and communities in their widest sense – to work together and step up to this challenge.”
The announcement cites a £50 million Wellbeing Fund, a £40 million Supporting Communities Fund, a £70 Million Food Fund to support households who may be worried about accessing food due to an income drop or self-isolation, and a £20 million Third Sector Resilience Fund.
Rev Brown added:
“I have been inspired by the many community initiatives up and down the country, which encourage people to keep being ‘social’ whilst maintaining safe and sensible physical distancing.
“The Church of Scotland celebrates the selflessness of our wide range of healthcare professionals as well as their professionalism and our congregations continue to pray for all during this time.”
The Scottish Government is also asking organisations to alert it to issues and gaps identified at community level and for people to highlight them as well as potential solutions. Please email here with ideas and suggestions.
To find out more about the Supporting Communities Fund click here