A NEW £100,000 fund has been launched to support voluntary groups tackling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in Swindon.

Set up by a pioneering housing development in partnership with the Wiltshire Community Foundation, the Oakfield Community Response Fund will provide support for good causes in the town.

Oakfield senior social investment manager Rachel Smith said: “We wanted to find a way to support small grass root community groups in the Swindon community during this time, and the appeal is helping those who need it most.

"Our Oakfield housing development is in the town and throughout the whole project community engagement has been a priority for us.

"Now our community needs us – so it feels right to support the Swindon community directly. We hope this funding, which has been set aside by the project’s sponsor, Nationwide Building Society, will support the community where it’s needed most.”

She said: "We recognise this is a really difficult time for many people, and we’re thrilled to be working with the Wiltshire Community Foundation."

The foundation’s Coronavirus Response Fund has already distributed more than £560,000 to more than 150 groups, including Swindon Night Shelter, the Swindon Food Collective, Age UK, Swindon City of Sanctuary, Swindon Scrapstore, Swindon Women’s Aid and the Stratton Juniors meals for the elderly project.

Its interim co-chief executive Fiona Oliver said the partnership is a testament to Oakfield’s commitment to the area and the community foundation’s in-depth knowledge of the voluntary sector.

“We are very thankful for this support by Oakfield for the groups in Swindon who have really stepped up to meet the challenges of this pandemic. The effects of it will be borne by the voluntary sector for some time to come and this amazing contribution will go a long way to making a fantastic difference in many people’s lives.”

Work has already begun on the Oakfield development - 239 homes on the former Oakfield Campus site in Walcot. The first houses are expected to be available from Autumn next year.

The plan is to provide sustainable housing with a focus on community.

Applications for grants will be assessed and awarded by the community foundation. Full criteria and information on how to apply can be found at wiltshirecf.org.uk.