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Emergency funds help young people get through crisis

Bridges Project and the young people we work with have benefitted immensely from various Covid-19 emergency funds.

Since the start of lockdown, Bridges Project has been lucky to be the recipient of several emergency funds established to help charities support people through these difficult times. Together, they have all contributed to making a huge difference to the lives of the young people we work with.

One of the first emergency grants we received came through Cash for Kids’ Basic Essentials Family Grants. It provided 19 of our young people with £35 worth of support each to cover basic essentials during the current crisis. This proved to be vital for young people who have seen their expenses increase during lockdown.

One young parent said: “The £35 support was a huge help with weekly budgeting, especially now that I have my son at home, we are eating more and using much more electricity. You do not realise the cost involved and this was proving difficult on this particular week when I am having him at home 24/7. So thank you.”

Bridges Project has also received support from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund. The £2,224 grant allowed us to support young people with items like food, essentials and mobile phone top-ups. Through this grant, we also managed to purchase a phone for a young carer who did not have one and was therefore particularly isolated at a time when technology has been a lifeline for everyone who has had to stay home.

She said: “I have really benefited from it. Now I can talk to my friends and arrange things before I go, I can do my online courses and learn more. It also comes in handy for when I ‘m not home. If my mum isn’t feeling welling well, I can easily check up on her. My favourite thing about having this phone would be that I can listen to music with headphones – music makes me feel 100 times better in any situation!”

The Supporting Communities Fund also helped many young people who struggle financially to buy food. This financial support was particularly invaluable for two young parents who experienced a period in which their Universal Credit did not sustain them. Another young parent used the support to improve the living conditions for her daughter.

She said: “It helped me to get blinds and a curtain for my daughter’s room and any bit of money she receives is greatly appreciated”.

Young people were not the only beneficiaries of the various emergency funds. They have also supported Bridges Project staff to adapt to home working, enabling them to assist young people more effectively. For instance, the Supporting Communities Fund allowed two staff members to purchase printers. One of the recipients was Tutor Susan Kerr.

“The printer will allow me to send copies of work to young people, which could make the difference between them engaging or not – especially if they don’t have electronic access.” said Susan.

Another fund which helped Bridges Project staff to support young people more efficiently from home was the Scottish Government’s Community Wellbeing Fund, administered by STV Children’s Appeal. The £2,000 grant allowed two staff members with slow and outdated laptops to purchase news ones. This increased efficiency has enabled the two staff members to reach more young people.

One of the recipients, Transitions Service Coordinator Natasha McInninie, said the new laptop was a gamechanger for her.

She said: “My previous laptop was so slow and made working from home really difficult and I could not link into the Zoom calls as the laptop did not have a camera or speakers. I am very grateful to the Scottish Government’s Community Wellbeing Fund and STV Children’s Appeal as I now have a laptop that works great. It has enabled me to stay in touch with clients and link into meetings with my colleagues and it has made working from home so much more pleasant’.

The Community Wellbeing Fund also had a ripple effect for the young people we work with. Alfie is one of the young people who have benefitted from this. He had a second hand laptop that broke and he did not have the money to repair it. However, because Bridges Project received new laptops, we were able to clear the data of one of the old ones and give it to him.

Alfie has said that he was very pleased to receive the laptop. This has enabled him to continue with his Animal Care course with the Bridges Project Tutor and keep going with his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. These are both currently taking place online and computer access is therefore essential.

Alfie’s mum also said: “Thanks to Bridges Project, my son now has access to a lot of learning material on the laptop they gifted him after his gave up. This will really help him with the work he has to do. I feel this will make a big difference to helping him. We are truly grateful for all the help Bridges Project have given our family during this difficult time.”

In addition to the funding above, Bridges Project has also received emergency funding from the Carer Service Remote Working Fund (£2,450), BBC Children in Need Covid-19 Booster Grants (£2,064) and Inspiring Scotland (£2,000) during the Covid-19 pandemic. As well as this, the British Red Cross East of Scotland Hardship Fund has distributed a total of £150 of emergency support and weekly food parcels to four of the young people we work with. It is heartwarming to see the collective support all these various actors have shown as everyone has been pulling together to get through these extremely challenging times. Bridges Project is truly grateful for every single one of the emergency grants we have received, which have helped us to help young people. The support has genuinely made the difficulties they are facing a little bit easier to cope with.

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