A COVID fund set up to help charities during the pandemic is now closed to new applications because all "funds have now been spent".

The Cumbria Covid-19 Response Fund, administered by the Cumbria Community Foundation, has handed out £2.36m to about 200 organisations since it started in March.

It's provided a lifeline to those helping the elderly, medically vulnerable, young people, those facing financial hardship and emotional distress.

The announcement comes despite the Government implementing a raft of measures to tackle the new variant of the disease - which could remain in place until spring.

Jenny Benson, director of programmes and partnerships at the foundation, said: “It is with regret that we close the Fund to new applications.

"This is because all available funds have been spent.

“Thank you to all our donors who have made grants through the fund possible.

"The people and communities of Cumbria have responded magnificently to the challenges of the pandemic.

"It has been a privilege to support hundreds of groups and thousands of volunteers across the county.

"The fund remains open to new donations and any additional funds donated will be targeted at organisations supporting those facing hardship caused by the pandemic.”

The foundation manages around 100 grant making funds on behalf of individuals, families, and businesses, awarding on average £2m a year to a wide range of organisations.

"These remain open to new applications as normal.

“We know some organisations are concerned that funders will only award grants that are responding to the pandemic.

"If funds are limited, then priority may be given to projects that are addressing current issues and have the greatest positive impact on our communities, however, we will continue to award other kinds of grants in line with the wishes and interests of our fundholders,”

Among those helped was West Cumbria Domestic Violence Support who received £14,824 to continue offer counselling support to victims of domestic violence.

Victoria Pike, project manager, said: “While many victims and survivors of domestic abuse rely on family and friends, they also need a strong provision of formal services, from specialist refuges to counsellors."