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Moray relief fund reaches £150,000

By Lorna Thompson

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DONATIONS to the Moray Emergency Relief Fund (MERF) have now topped £150,000 – less than two months after it was launched.

The fund has received 200 applications so far, paying out £40,000 in much-needed support to families in the area in addition to £15,000 in computer equipment to help with home schooling.

Created in response to the COVID-19 crisis by the lieutenancies of Moray and Banffshire, the fund is a safety net for people not helped sufficiently by the government and council support measures. It follows a similar effort to help with flood relief in the early 2000s.

It is planned to keep the MERF in place once the COVID-19 crisis has passed in the eventuality that any future crisis hits Moray communities.

Administered entirely by current and former lord-lieutenants and deputies, approved grants are frequently paid out within 48 hours.

The Lord Lieutenant of Moray, Major General Seymour Monro, said the fund has been an extraordinary success, thanks to the generosity of donors in the area and the voluntary work undertaken by the lieutenancy team.

The Lord Lieutenant of Moray, Major General Seymour Monro.
The Lord Lieutenant of Moray, Major General Seymour Monro.

He said: "It is a prime example how the lieutenancies can be a force for good in the community, especially at times of great need and of crisis.

"The impact of COVID-19 has varied according to the many different circumstances of those in our area.

"The Moray Emergency Relief Fund has been able to provide support to people whose situations have meant that other sources of income or help have not matched their urgent needs.

"Most recently, working with Moray Council ICT department, MERF was able to supply laptops and printers which will support the schoolwork of several families while the council loan scheme came online."

The MERF volunteers have found themselves working alongside many organisations, voluntary groups and individuals.

Lord-Lieutenant of Banffshire Andrew Simpson said the fund will continue to operate for as long as it is needed.

He said: "Support will still be required as individuals and businesses adapt to ongoing government guidance and to new circumstances.

"There have been over 120 donations from individuals who have given what they can through to large local employers. The generosity has been outstanding. We were especially grateful for the £25,000 donation from Pernod Ricard.

"Once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed and there is no more call on the MERF, we plan to keep it open in readiness to help our community should it face another crisis."

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