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The Central Lakes Trust (CLT) has given more than $500,000 in Covid-19 related grants in the past year.

According to its 2020-21 annual report, the Cromwell-based charity gave 17 more grants than in the previous year, which were attributable to its pandemic response.

The CLT gave 16 emergency top-ups to core service agencies, mainly in the social service sector, to support the increase in demand and complexity of need in Covid-related issues.

It also funded the resilience in schools initiative, with $235,000 granted to 27 across the district. The constraints of the pandemic had limited the ability of schools to fundraise for extracurricular activities, therefore the CLT had created a one-off initiative to assist in the recovery and wellbeing of the young.

For Clyde Primary School this funding meant a mixture of ice skating and curling in Alexandra, or a day trip to the Snow Farm. Remarkables Primary School completed a writers’ workshop.

In their joint report, CLT chairwoman Linda Roberston and chief executive Susan Finlay said the Central Lakes region was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic in New Zealand.

Despite what became a challenging investment environment, the board had approved a similar grant budget to the previous financial year, which had been used in full.

A total of $9.5million was granted to the community: $3,855,096 (41%) to community recreation; $2,661,720 (28%) to community wellbeing; $1,757,932 (18%) to lifelong learning and $740,428 (8%) to environment and heritage.

Following the lockdowns of March-April 2020, and as the year continued, the more longer-term impacts of Covid-19 started to be felt and tested the resilience of the community, the Robertson/Finlay report stated.

As a result, the Queenstown-based Southern Wellbeing Trust was started in September to address mental health concerns, with about $2.66million in total given to the community wellbeing space. Within this, Covid-19 emergency grants were given to Age Concern Otago, Alexandra Community House, Anglican Family Care, Birthright Central Otago, Catholic Social Services, Central Lakes Social Services, Central Otago Budgeting Services, Citizens Advice Bureau Queenstown, Community Networks Wanaka, Cromwell Resource Centre Trust, Presbyterian Support Otago, Volunteer South and Wanaka Community Hub.

In October, the CLT organised the Nigel Latta Central Lakes Resilience Tour. The Dunedin-based psychologist and author delivered messages focused on the ability to recover from illness, depression and adversity.

The CLT holds $450million in investment assets, and since its inception in 2000, had given out $118.4million in grants.

Pioneer Energy represented 35% of CLT’s foundation assets and was worth $116.1million. The fully CLT-owned energy company had paid a total of $97.3million in dividends since 2000.