Historic Exeter Fire Appeal
Collective philanthropy provides donors with the opportunity to pool their resources under a common cause, theme or geographic area.
At the end of October 2016 a devastating fire destroyed the oldest hotel in the UK: the Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter. The largest fire seen in Exeter since the Second World War, it shocked and saddened local residents who began looking for a way to help support staff employed by affected businesses as well as the recovery and restoration of the historic area.
Exeter City Council and Exeter CVS knew they needed an organisation that could put a safe pair of hands around the local community’s generosity, and knowing Devon Community Foundation’s successful track record to emergency response after the 2014 Winter Floods, were quick to ask for DCF’s involvement.
The Foundation set up the Historic Exeter Fire Appeal immediately and were inundated with donations within a couple of hours. The fund, which raised over £25,000 in total, has already helped individuals and small businesses to the tune of around £22,000 thanks to support from Exeter CAB. Helping people to give more locally is what Devon Community Foundation does best, so after responding to the individuals and businesses facing financial hardship as a result of the fire, it was important to the Foundation that they gave the local community a chance to say how they would like the funds used.
Thanks to support from Exeter Express & Echo and Radio Exe, the Foundation consulted with the public and those who donated to decide what to do with the remaining funds. The overwhelming response was to fund a cultural tribute representing the historical significance of buildings involved, which will be progressed once the final grants have been made.
“This is the official fund to help people and businesses in need and the future restoration of the buildings as a result of the fire. Those wishing to help can be sure that the funds will be handled properly by this experienced charity.” Karime Hassan, Exeter City Council Chief Executive
“This has been an awful experience for Exeter and I am deeply saddened. However the community spirit was inspirational and this fund gives us all a chance to keep that spirit going to support recovery.” Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter
“Thank you Exeter residents for giving more locally and raising an amazing amount of money for the Historic Exeter Fire Appeal. We are very impressed and proud to have been able to support those who need it most. Assisting people whose income plummeted either temporarily, whilst the cordons were in place, or permanently requiring them to find a new job.” Martha Wilkinson, Devon Community Foundation Chief Executive
COMMUNITY IN ACTION: ASSIST FAMILIES IN NEED
One of the beneficiaries of the Historic Exeter Fire Appeal worked at the Royal Clarence. Losing her job, just as her husband was made redundant from his, hit the family hard. Although she was applying for jobs and in the process of claiming benefits, with an eight year old daughter and no money coming in at such short notice, the family desperately needed money to pay their rent. The Historic Exeter Fire Appeal awarded £1,700, a month’s salary, to help cover her rent and usual expenses until her husband’s new job started and she was able to find employment.
“The appeal award came at a time when my husband and I had been made redundant on the same day. With a family to support we rapidly became two months behind on our rent and car payments, leaving us in real danger of losing our home and car. This appeal has meant that we have been able to keep a roof over our head and our daughter safe and secure. We are so unbelievably grateful for the assistance. This appeal saved us, our home and kept our family together and the relief when the award was granted is immeasurable. You have given us an incredible gift, thank you.”