A charity providing vital support to asylum seekers, vulnerable refugees and wider community members in Leicestershire has received an emergency grant from the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner to expand its work amid the coronavirus crisis.
Lord Willy Bach has agreed a £10,000 grant to The Race Equality Centre in Leicester and Leicestershire (TREC) to enable the organisation to deliver food parcels and toiletries and other support to its vulnerable service users during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The PCC recently announced the expansion of his PCC Prevention Fund for 2020-21 in which he has ring-fenced an additional £100k – making a total of £350,000 – to help community organisations deliver relief efforts and protect residents against the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic.
His latest grant will enable TREC to deliver essential supplies including 30 emergency parcels per week, rising to 60-90 food parcels, for the next four to eight weeks. The parcels will include food, toiletries, baby food, nappy wipes, gloves and hand sanitisers.
It comes as costs for essential items have risen during the crisis, making it more difficult for new claimants and other vulnerable people to live within their weekly allowance.
Additionally, the funding will cover the costs of new telephone sim cards to enable service users to keep in contact with family and support organisations and a new E-Bulletin providing details and updates on TREC’s services throughout Covid-19 as well as vital information and access to support organisations to keep people safe.
Announcing the grant, Willy Bach said: “This is a worrying time for us all and particularly distressing for those people seeking sanctuary in Leicestershire with little or no means of support from family members and friends and no access to additional funding.
“During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that we come together to offer help and support where we can to ease the burden.
“I’m very proud of the efforts of local organisations in Leicestershire in their response to this pandemic and I want to help where I can with vital funding.
“TREC does a sterling job supporting vulnerable people who face a number of barriers in accessing traditional sources of help and this grant will make life easier for many families and individuals over the next few weeks.”
TREC’s emergency project for New Arrivals will see parcels distributed once or twice a week from the Highfields Centre in Leicester or outside homes if individuals are self-isolation.
Iris Lightfoote, Chief Executive of TREC, said: “During the lockdown TREC staff, through our emergency services, soon recognised the additional impact on our clients. Some have limited or no phone access leaving them feeling isolated and vulnerable, others are anxious and depressed and some of those who recently received a positive decision are unable to access the system fully and therefore unable to afford essentials. There are also clients (particularly those on zero hours contracts) employed through agencies and currently laid off who are unable to pay for utilities.
“TREC is grateful for the fund received from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office. This will go a long way in assisting us to meet the needs of our vulnerable clients.”
Since the crisis escalated, the PCC has already pledged support to Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland and charity E2 to provide emergency food parcels and launch other vital support measures.
“Many people are facing desperate situations in the current crisis and I’m determined nobody is left behind,” added Willy Bach.
“I will do everything possible to ensure those who need help receive it and that together we ease their stress and panic with information, practical help and above all, kindness.”
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