COVID-19 Response Fund responding to growing need

  • 06-May-20
  • News Media Release

Otago Community Trust has had a steady flow of applications to its dedicated COVID-19 Response Fund with nearly $400,000 of grants awarded to date. 

Trust chief executive, Barbara Bridger said the trust has had a range of applications come in, a number are to assist with technology, whereas others are related to increased demand for essential services and the increased costs associated with this.

We have had to decline a number of applications as they did not meet the criteria of the Response Fund. The Fund was not established to compensate for loss of income due to COVID-19, we have had to reiterate that at times, Bridger said.

“We know that these are particularly challenging times, the fund is very much focused on supporting community organisations meet the additional costs of delivering services, projects or activities to members of the community ‘most in need’ as a result of COVID-19.”

We are also providing funding support to those community organisations who are incurring or have incurred additional costs related to expansion of services as a result of COVID-19, said Bridger

Beth Stitely from Servants Health Centre said the ability to be able to secure funding support quickly has allowed us to continue to provide much needed services to our community’s most vulnerable.

Having the ability to quickly apply for funding to cover the additional costs for more highly skilled staff and thereby ensuring our services continue has been a big relief, Stitely said.

“Because of the restrictions of Alert Levels 4 and 3, we’ve had to change the way we provide care, moving away from direct patient contact to mostly phone consultations.”

One of our concerns was for the mental health of our patients and how they would cope under the lock-down restrictions. We made extra efforts to maintain contact by making regular phone calls to check on patients’ well-being and other needs, this has come at an additional cost but one we can cover with the support of Otago Community Trust.”

Brian Lowe from Youthline Otago said with support from the COVID-19 Response Fund we have been able to employ a second dedicated triage staff member to support the Helpline Counselling team during peak times.  In April, our client interactions increased 105% above usual levels and support for mental distress increased 68%.

“This allows us to safely manage the increased volume of work that has resulted from COVID-19, we anticipate a reasonable period  of ongoing distress related to various issues including schooling, financial pressures, job loss, domestic issues including domestic violence and mental health issues such as increased anxiety and depression.” 

We know we are making a difference when we receive notes of thanks that simply say “thank you for talking to me, you make me feel worth something to the world” Lowe said.

Otago Community Trust has also granted $25,000 to each of our five territorial local authorities who reside within the Trust’s funding area.

Trust chair Ross McRobie said this is in recognition of the fact that while much of the costs of the Civil Defence and Welfare efforts are being met by Central Government at this time, councils faced extra costs as they respond to the immediate welfare needs of their individual communities.”

Overall, we are pleased with how the Response Fund is tracking and we encourage community organisations to contact the trust is they have any questions around funding support.” 

To date, the Otago Community Trust have awarded $397,434 to 29 community organisations since the dedicated COVID-19 Response Fund was opened in early April.


Otago Community Trust COVID-19 Response Fund Grants – at 5 May 2020


Central Otago District Council



Clutha District Council



Otago Youth Wellness



Stopping Violence Dunedin



Dunedin City Council



Servants Health Centre



Dunedin Community Care Trust



Moana House



Connections Education & Development Centre



Te Hou Ora Whanau Services



Dunedin Community Mediation



Dunedin Budget Advisory Service



Mornington School



Work Opportunities Trust



Waitaki District Council



CCS Disability Action Waitaki



Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group Inc



Cancer Society NZ



Aroha Ki Te Tamariki Trust






Able Charitable Trust









Ronald McDonald House



Brain Injury Assn



Methodist Mission






Cystic Fibrosis NZ



CCS Disability Otago



Queenstown Lakes District Council



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