MORE than 100 groups across Swindon and Wiltshire have now been helped to tackle the effects of the pandemic with grants from the Wiltshire Community Foundation.

Its Coronavirus Response Fund has now raised more than £600,000 and distributed more than £350,000 since it launched in March. Applications for help are still arriving every day, said interim co-chief executive Fiona Oliver.

Among the latest grant recipients is Collaborative Schools, an education charity made up of a network of 27 primary and secondary schools across Trowbridge, Melksham, Westbury, Warminster and Pewsey, has been given £5,000 to buy 80 iPad and Chromebooks for struggling families who can’t afford to buy them.

Manager Jayne Bullock said the charity, whose therapist work with children in the classroom, have had to adapt to working remotely online. She said: “It’s been a real learning curve but for those families who are the most vulnerable for a number of reasons, it is proving to be a real lifeline, especially for those children of primary school age where our support is mainly for parents to help them meet their children’s needs while they are at home.”

She said many families are shielding for health reasons if one member has an underlying condition. They aren’t meeting any criteria from the government in terms of being able to get some devices to allow the schools or our staff to support them in the home because the criteria is having a social worker.”

“What that means for those children is that they have lost all links with society. They are not able to contact or have conversations with staff who they trust in their schools. Parents aren’t able to get advice either in the way that other families are, so they are really cut off from the world,” she added.

The tablets will come pre-loaded with software appropriate for each child and will allow them to access lessons and support that otherwise they would be missing.

Mrs Bullock said: “This device will be personalised to the children’s needs and at a time when they are not able to have contact with their school there are people there who want to help. One child described it as a window and said ‘I can see outside of my four walls now’.

“They will also be able to have weekly face to face conversations with trusted staff at school and remote therapy if that’s what they need. I can’t praise the Wiltshire Community Foundation enough for helping us out with the grant.”

Horatio’s Garden at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Injury Centre at Salisbury District Hospital has been awarded £4,098 from the Swindon and Wiltshire Coronavirus Response Fund to help pay the salary of head gardener Stephen Hackett.

The charity, which needs to raise £60,000 a year to stay open, has been unable to hold fundraising events, particularly at this week’s cancelled Chelsea Flower Show.

Director of Fundraising Bethan Cummings said not having its regular showcase stand at the world famous show has been a huge blow. “It is always a massively important week for us, partly for profile as we have a stand in the avenue where people walk round but we also sell about £4,000 worth lot of merchandise a day,” she said.

The grant means Mr Hackett won’t have to be furloughed and the garden continue to benefit patients at the county’s only spinal centre. “We are doing all we can at the moment to stay open so the grant from the Wiltshire Community Foundation is an enormous help,” said Mrs Cummings

Mrs Oliver said: “We are so incredibly grateful to individual donors, trusts and companies, as well as the National Emergencies Trust, who have given to the fund. We are working flat out to get the money to the groups who need it.

“We still desperately need more donations though because the grant applications are still coming in.”

To donate to the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund or to find out how to apply for a grant, go to