North Devon Council has provided a Local Hardship Fund in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with financial support from Devon County Council.

The purpose of the fund is to provide support to families who are suffering immediate financial hardship directly as a result of COVID-19. It can be used to provide support with basic essential needs, such as food, personal or household items, travel for essential hospital and doctor appointments, repairs and even gas and electricity costs. It is an emergency fund which has been accessed by many people over the past six months. 

During the summer, this fund was used to provide financial assistance to schools in the area who then identified and provided direct help to families and pupils most at need. The council is hoping to set up a similar arrangement for the Christmas school holidays. The fund has also been used to provide direct support to North Devon Food Bank and to fund other groups working with and supporting our local communities.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: “Over the past week, the response from all sectors of the North Devon community to the free school meals issue has been fantastic and shows what North Devon does best; supporting its community. The Local Hardship Fund is an emergency fund set up to help people who have been directly financially affected by COVID to help them with their basic needs.  There is nothing more basic than the need for food, so if people are not able to access any of the generous assistance offered by local businesses, or if those businesses themselves are struggling to support their offer, the fund may be able to help.”

North Devon Council’s Lead Member for Housing, Councillor Nicola Topham says: "North Devon Council has been helping the most in need in our community throughout the pandemic and we want to do as much as we can to continue supporting them, particularly if they need help with feeding children during the school holidays. If any families are having difficulties, this fund is available to assist. Also if any local businesses who have stepped up and offered support need help in providing that support, the fund could be available to assist with their efforts as well."

To make an application, please contact the Council on 01271 388280 or email customerservices@northdevon.gov.uk.  The Council is presently operating with a reduced number of staff in its Customer Contact Centre due to COVID related absences and so if you are not able to get through immediately, please be patient and try again.