Trust earmarks $2m for dedicated Covid-19 Response Fund

Otago Community Trust chairman Ross McRobie and chief executive Barbara Bridger met with fellow board members to establish a Covid-19 Response Fund. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The Otago Community Trust has earmarked $2m for a Covid-19 Response Fund.

The board met virtually for the first time in its history at the beginning of the week.

The meeting scheduled for March 24 was initially postponed as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Trust chairman Ross McRobie said the trust met for an urgent meeting, recognising the importance of discussing its response to Covid-19.

Trustees unanimously agreed to respond quickly and effectively to support the community by establishing a separate Covid-19 Response Fund.

“Our decision to quickly earmark $2m to a dedicated Covid-19 Response Fund is an effort to reassure those community organisations that may be facing increased costs or responding to greater need as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown that help will be available.”

Trust chief executive Barbara Bridger said the trust was now working hard to establish the fund.

“Our key commitment to the community is that we wish to be flexible and responsive at this time.

“We will provide more information on the criteria and application process to our social services and community-based organisations in the near future.”

The trust’s investment portfolio was robust and designed to navigate good and bad years and the current challenging financial downturn, stressed McRobie.

There was a good level of accumulated-income reserves in place to support Otago.

At the meeting, the board also approved community grants.

Funding was given to the West Taieri Rugby Football Club ($13,000) to assist with replacing field lighting at the Outram Domain.

Citizens Advice Bureau Dunedin got $12,000 to support the delivery of its services.

The trust gave $97,451 to nine community organisations in March.

Some applications were withdrawn due to the rapidly changing environment and national Covid-19 restrictions.