06 Sep BLOG: Critical Funding Support in Unprecedented Times
We were so grateful that The Community Foundation for Surrey provided invaluable support to Oakleaf before and during the pandemic. Now, with the year behind us, we wanted to highlight some of the ways in which the Coronavirus Response Fund, managed by the CFS, has helped both our staff and our clients during what was certainly a memorable year.
At Oakleaf, we aim to make our services accessible to all but of course from the start of Covid-19 much of our support had to be delivered remotely, meaning we had to form a separate, online community for clients. The funding really helped ensure Oakleaf could develop and maintain remote support throughout the pandemic; it also meant we could accommodate more clients, including those now too anxious to attend face-to-face sessions or who resided further away.
Kelvin, Oakleaf’s Outreach Engagement Project Lead and coach of the Oakleaf football team ‘The Mighty Oaks’, describes some of the challenges we faced over the past 18 months and how we managed to ensure that everyone still had access to the help they needed:
“When we went into lockdown, a lot of organisations either decided to or were forced to close due to lack of funding and resources. We were initially really concerned as to whether Oakleaf would financially make it through this.
“Moreover, the stress and the social disruption caused by the pandemic left many of our clients feeling lost, lonely, anxious, depressed and uncertain about the future.
“Very fortunately, the funding we received from the Community Foundation at the beginning of the pandemic and thereafter enabled us to continue running our services and be proactive in our approach. We were able to facilitate Check-In and Chat sessions with our clients on a daily basis during the lockdown period, both online and over the phone, providing them with regular updates on our services and all other avenues of support based on each individual’s needs.
“As a team, we felt that it was incredibly important that we were – and still are – able to send the message that no matter what, support is out there. Help is always available, whether that be through Oakleaf, your GP, friends and family, crisis lines or emergency support services like the Guildford Safe Haven.
“Alongside our check-in sessions, we worked with our activity leaders to come up with interactive courses and workshops that we could run from people’s homes and gardens. For example, one of our upholstery assistants, Netty, came up with the fantastic idea of forming a group for clients to create Spring Bulb Planters – one where they could come together and experience nature in a virtual capacity while adding a little colour (if they were to grow successfully) to their lives, particularly during these uncertain times.
“We were essentially able to provide a ‘home away from home’ for clients alongside our virtual activities and support groups, including art therapy, cooking and nutrition, fitness classes, choir, yoga, anxiety management workshops and many more – all of which would have been impossible to run without the support we received through the Coronavirus Response Fund.
“As we continue through 2021, I’m sure I can speak on behalf of the entire Oakleaf family and say a huge thank you to CFS for your generous ongoing support of Oakleaf; we are so very grateful, particularly at a time when conversations surrounding mental health are needed more than ever. We continue to do all we can to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental ill-health in Surrey.”
If you or someone you know is struggling, and would benefit from using Oakleaf’s services, please visit our website: www.oakleaf-enterprise.org
About: The Community Foundation for Surrey
The Community Foundation for Surrey is an independent charitable foundation that brings together local Donors with voluntary organisations, addressing the many challenges within our communities.
We work with individuals, families, businesses and charitable trusts who want to make a real and lasting difference within Surrey, by connecting them with charitable projects that are providing vital support to local people across the county.
Local Donors can establish a bespoke fund with the Foundation, or contribute to one of our collective funds, supporting a growing programme of grant-making. We are proud to manage more than 85 active funds and provide meaningful support to over 400 community projects each year.
Since our inception in 2015, we have awarded over £15 million to Surrey communities. Our mission is to continue to grow local philanthropy to change lives.
We are part of a national network of 46 accredited Community Foundations, one of the fastest growing philanthropic movements in the UK.