Donations to Moray Emergency Relief Fund top ?200,000 Picture shows; Donations from the Moray Emergency Relief Fund are made to the Moray School Bank. Pictured: Moray Vice Lord Lieutenant Nancy Robson, Moray School Bank development coordinator Debbie Kelly, Moray Lord Lieutenant Seymour Monro, Moray School Bank development manager Debi Weir.

Donations to Moray’s Emergency Relief Fund has topped the £200k mark, with most of it already distributed to those in dire need due to the pandemic.

Established in April by the Lieutenancies of Moray and Banffshire, it has given out £185,000 to over 500 applicants in the Moray Council area since April.

The only local and independent grant-giving relief fund of its kind in Scotland, the trustees say that their work since April has opened many eyes and organisations to the level of poverty that exists in the area, and how it has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Lord – Lieutenant of Moray, Seymour Monro, said everyone involved has become more aware.

“We are all very conscious of deprivation in Moray as highlighted by Covid,” he said.
“The Lieutenancies have got involved with Moray Council and charities at operational level to help in short term, whilst doing what we can to help address the issues in the long term. “Part of this longer term action is to become members of the Fairer Moray Forum Action Group, and ensuring those seeking help are fully aware of what support already exists from the local authority, government and charities.”

The fund will be donating £5,000 to the Moray School Bank, which provides extra clothing for pupils. Extra ventilation in classrooms to reduce Covid infection means many pupils need extra layers of clothing, which is often beyond a struggling family’s budget.

Although the trustees say they expect to be in demand for some time to come, an interim report on the Moray Emergency Relief Fund (MERF) activities has been produced for those who have donated to the total raised so far of £210,000.

The interim report, produced by Moray’s former Lord – Lieutenant Grenville Johnston, who is Chairman of MERF, states that the MERF team have worked closely with Moray Council benefits staff and social workers.

‘We would like to record that Moray Council staff have been hugely supportive of our efforts,’ it says.
‘We think we are the only fund of its kind in Scotland adding to the council’s armoury of help which includes food banks, grants and the rest. All of those involved in this process have had their eyes opened to the poverty that exists on our doorstep.
‘Many of our applicants have suffered hugely as a result of Covid. First, they may have been furloughed and then, second, having suffered that, they are made redundant because of closure or shutdown of a business.’

Lord-Lieutenant of Banffshire, Andrew Simpson, said that donations are still needed.
“The impact of the pandemic on the poorest families in the area will be felt for some time yet,” he said.
“So I would urge anyone that can to dig deep and make a donation. We can all do something to help our people recover.“
The link for donations is .