MORE than 50 groups across the county have been helped to tackle the coronavirus outbreak with grants from the Wiltshire Community Foundation.

Its Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund has now raised £350,000 in just four weeks.

Interim co-chief executive Fiona Oliver said: “This is a fantastic total and we are so grateful for the donations. Our grant and finance teams are working flat out to make sure applications are assessed as quickly as possible and money gets to where it is needed as soon as possible.”

Almost £200,000-worth of grants have been made to groups tackling hunger, poverty, isolation, mental health issues and home education.

Among the recipients is Wessex Community Action in Salisbury, which has been given £7,940 for its Salisbury Compassionate Community Scheme, which is being run in partnership with Salisbury City Council to set up an army of volunteers to do shopping and collect prescriptions for elderly and vulnerable people who are isolating.

The grant is funding staff, volunteer and IT costs for the network that was developed in just a few weeks to cope with the demand. “We are really grateful for the grant and it has allowed us to carry on,” said CEO Amber Skyring.

She said more than 130 people have signed up to volunteer their time to help people in Salisbury. “We have had an amazing response from people of all walks of life and all ages. We have had people in their 70s coming forward,” she said.

“The charity and the council have set up a shopping card system so all our volunteers can access that if they need to and then we can invoice residents afterwards.”

Mrs Skyring said the group has focused on ensuring volunteers build up a rapport with the people they are assigned to. “We are allocating one volunteer for four residents so that they build up a relationship and they develop a sense of taking care of those particular residents. That volunteer also becomes their go-to person,” she said.

Carer Support Wiltshire has been given £8,500 to set up a telephone support network for carers who have been left isolated by the pandemic. The group has 11,000 registered carers across the county and a team of up to 50 volunteers will prioritise older members who don’t have email.

Community fundraising officer Rachel Demery said: “Our face-to-face support services, mainly carer cafes, support groups and creative carer groups, have been postponed due to social-distancing restrictions, which means that nearly 500 carers in Wiltshire are going without interaction with their key support network at a time when they need it more than ever.

“Carers over 70 are most likely to self-isolate for an extended period, are less likely to have access to technology, and can lack IT skills, which makes it difficult for them to keep in touch with friends and family. They are at high risk of loneliness, depression and poor mental health.”

Mrs Oliver said the £350,000 total has been reached with the help of individual donors, trusts, companies and money from the National Emergencies Trust’s Coronavirus Appeal.

She added: “We are so grateful for all the money that has so generously been given but as the lockdown goes into a fifth week, voluntary groups are feeling the effects more than ever and we know that need for help is going to keep growing.”

To apply for a grant or to donate go to