Zurich Community Trust Covid-19 support reaches £1m

  • Swindon and Wiltshire based charities have been awarded £130,000 including; Swindon Carers, Phoenix Enterprises, Open Door, Swindon Women’s Aid
  • £25,000 has been awarded to the Wiltshire Community Foundation for the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response fund
  • All charities are current or previous partners of Zurich’s charitable arm in the UK, Zurich Community Trust (ZCT) and selected by Zurich’s 950 Swindon based employees
  • Funding is part of £2m aid package announced in May by ZCT.

The Zurich Community Trust (ZCT) – Zurich’s charitable arm in the UK based in Swindon – has reached its half-way milestone in awarding £1m in funding to charities working to support those hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis. This includes donations of over £130,000 to Swindon and Wiltshire based charities as part of a £2m support package announced in May.

Local recipients include Phoenix Enterprises, a social enterprise that works to support people with learning disabilities and mental health issues in accessing vital services and getting them into work. ZCT’s most recent grant of over £11,000 has enabled the charity to cover rent and utility payments while the centre was closed due to social distancing measures and is in addition to the £9,000 provided to Phoenix Enterprises in April. Over the past three years, ZCT has also awarded £10,000 per year to help pay for a fundraising manager that has enabled the charity to double its income.

Services at Phoenix include on-site skills training through its social enterprise, where it wins contracts from retailers to provide high quality products. Service users can also access help with applying for benefits, health services and housing, plus support with life skills for independent living.

Commenting on ZCT’s support, Emma Rees, Chairperson, Phoenix Enterprises, added: “Zurich’s funding through this crisis has given us a vital lifeline while we’ve lost income through our usual commercial activities. As well as being able to cover essential overheads, it is helping us to continue with our work – which includes a 24-hour helpline to support with practical advice right through to supporting service users in real crisis.”

As well as funding for ten Swindon charities – Hometruths, Open door, Phoenix Enterprises, Swindon Advocacy Movement, Swindon Carers, Swindon 105.5, Swindon Night Shelter, Swindon Ten to Eighteen Project, Swindon Women’s Aid and TWIGS (Therapeutic Work In Gardening Swindon) – all chosen by Zurich’s 950 Swindon employees, £25,000 has been awarded to the Wiltshire Community Foundation for the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus response fund to help the wider community and voluntary sector given Zurich’s significant presence and history in Swindon and surrounding areas.

To bolster ZCT’s financial support, Zurich’s employees have also provided skills-based assistance. This includes a series of webinars covering issues like digital marketing and an external PR workshop looking at how charities can share stories about the invaluable services they’re providing. The insurer is also looking to launch its suite of over 50 online training courses provided by Hemsley Fraser to partner charities in October.

Staff are also being encouraged to use their three allocated volunteering days as an opportunity to support people and communities affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

Steve Grimmett, Head of Zurich Community Trust added, “We are acutely aware of the huge challenges facing charities over recent months with many having to stop the activities that help them generate income. At the same time, with many people at home and potentially isolated, the services they provide are needed more than ever.

“In response, we’ve refocused our efforts to help fund those charities we have existing relationships with who are working to support those most affected. We remain committed to continued support over the coming weeks and months and hope to announce more funds available.”

At a national level, ZCT has increased its funding this year to £150,000 for existing partner, Dementia UK. With further support and commitment for those living with and caring for someone with dementia by donating £75,000 to the Alzheimer’s Society as part of the ‘Insurance United Against Dementia’ campaign.

Donations to date include:

  • Alzheimer’s Society(under the Insurance United Against Dementia’ movement) – £75,000 to help increase its phone and online services during the Covid crisis where face to face services have had to be suspended to keep people safe.
  • Dementia UK – £75,000 to fund additional nurses on Dementia UK’s Helpline over the next 12-week period, providing support to families who are struggling during what has become a very isolating and challenging time.
  • Wiltshire Community Foundation – £25,000 to contribute towards the Wiltshire & Swindon Coronavirus appeal, which will support community organisations across Wiltshire given Zurich’s 40-year history in the county
  • The Good Gym – £200,000 donation to support a new partnership with the charity where runners are combining exercise with helping to provide deliveries and support for vulnerable people during the current crisis. The charity has an active group in Swindon as well as Bath and Bristol.
  • £566,904 of support to 15 local partner organisations in Birmingham, Cardiff, Croydon, Fareham, Farnborough, Leeds, London, Manchester and Swindon.