INSURANCE giant Zurich has given more than £53,000 to charities near its Hampshire offices as part of a £1million award so far to those hardest hit by the Covid crisis.

Zurich Community Trust, the insurer’s charitable arm, has reached the half-way point in a £2milion support package for good causes.

Zurich’s 450 Fareham employees chose charities they wanted to back.

The trust awarded £15,000 to Step by Step, which supports a Foyer centre in East Street, Havant, for young people who are going through hard times, including homelessness.

The donation was used for food, toiletries and other essentials, as well as for counselling, support and training to help people into education, jobs and training.

Jenna Grant, corporate partnerships officer at Step by Step, said: “We are so grateful for the ZCT’s support which has allowed us to sustain and enhance our service for vulnerable young people in need of housing, counselling and/or training. Their grant goes way beyond covering the simple yet essential things like overheads.

“Whilst young people appear to be at less physical risk from Covid-19, there is evidence that they are disproportionately affected in a number of key areas including housing and homelessness; employment and education; and mental health – all areas that Step by Step supports. Our work is ongoing and we continue to work with all of our partners to empower young people towards a brighter future by breaking the cycle of youth homelessness.”

Local donations also went to:

  • The Alzheimer’s Society
  • KIDS, for children with disabilities and their families
  • Solent Mind Upturn Project, providing mental health support and education for young people
  • The Society of St James, which supports homeless people with alcohol or substance use problems, as well as mental health problems.

Zurich staff have also provided skills-based assistance, including webinars covering issues such as digital marketing and an external PR workshop, looking at how charities can share stories about their services.

The insurer is also looking to launch its suite of more than 50 online training courses provided by Hemsley Fraser to partner charities in October. Staff are being encouraged to use their three allocated volunteering days as an opportunity to support people and communities affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

Steve Grimmett, head of Zurich Community Trust, said: “We are acutely aware of the huge challenges facing charities over recent months with many having to stop the activities that help them generate income. At the same time, with many people at home and potentially isolated, the services they provide are needed more than ever.

“In response, we’ve refocused our efforts to help fund the charities we have existing relationships with who are working to support those most affected. Step by Step is a fantastic example of this. We remain committed to all our charity partners and will continue to support them over the coming weeks and months - and we hope to announce more funds in the near future.”