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Keeping Strong for Gloucestershire

Barnwood Trust’s response to COVID-19 in support of the people, community spaces and voluntary organisations of Gloucestershire.

What does it mean to ‘belong’ in a time where people must stay apart?  Building Belonging is Barnwood Trust’s mission and we have had to work quickly to understand how people’s sense of belonging can be protected at a time none of us could have imagined a few months ago.

When the Corona virus began to have an impact in Gloucestershire, the team at Barnwood came together with a lot of questions.  How would this outbreak impact disabled people who were often leading disproportionately isolated lives, even before the advent of social distancing?  Would the welcoming communities of Gloucestershire become even stronger?  How would the Community Spaces that the Trust has invested in over the last three years survive, with no income, and without the communities that meet there coming together?  What would happen to the organisations across this county that form a backbone of support for people at the best and worst of times?

Rather than try to answer these questions ourselves, we reached out to different voluntary organisations across the county; spoke to those in the police and other statutory services; heard from individuals who were quickly feeling the impact of the new rules on their daily lives.

What we heard was both inspiring and deeply worrying.  Organisations were innovating, introducing new technology, completely redesigning themselves to support individuals who had begun to struggle to access information and psychological support.  Funders were willing to work in new ways to make sure that nobody in Gloucestershire goes without food or basic supplies.  And individuals were thinking of inspiring ways to keep fit, stay strong and help others.  But organisations were also running out of money; and individuals were already telling us that they were fearful about food and financial security and the impact this would have on their mental health.

What we realised was that to keep strong, we all need to keep connecting.  This means helping people stay connected with their communities via grants for things like phones or computers.  It means working with organisations that support people who are disproportionately impacted by this crisis and connecting them to funders; finding ways to help them keep doing what they do or to step up their support at this time.  This also means connecting with the past – remembering the disability rights movement that fought for equality of all people to receive the same resources and respect.

Coming together at this time is challenging. We cannot do it physically but, by focusing on keeping connected, we belong to a movement of thousands of individuals and organisations who will keep Gloucestershire strong during this pandemic …and hopefully long afterwards too.

Barnwood Trust’s response to COVID-19 follows four main strands:

  1. Where to find support– places to access help to keep you and your family strong
  2. Grants for you– funds to get what you need to keep you and the people you live with strong during this time
  3. Community spaces– support to keep community spaces and connections strong, now and after COVID-19
  4. Organisation grants – extra funds for Gloucestershire response projects and to keep charities and voluntary organisations strong, now and after COVID-19

Follow the links above to read more about each area of focus for the Trust during this time and to apply for grants for individuals.

For more information or to discuss ways that Barnwood can support your organisation at this time, email