A CAMPAIGN by businessman Steve Morgan to help charities affected during coronavirus outbreak has handed out nearly £2m and helped 585,000 people during its first two weeks.

In March the founder of the Steve Morgan Foundation pledged to give £1m a week to charities battling to help some of the most vulnerable sectors of society cope with coronavirus and he said he’s been ‘overwhelmed’ by the response.

Mr Morgan, who is the founder of housebuilder Redrow and former owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers, said the money had been split between charities and good causes across Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales.

He said: “At close of play on Friday we’d given out £1.73m to 139 applications but the team were working throughout the weekend so we’ll top £2m today (Monday).

“We know we’ve directly benefited 585,000 people facing a range of problems including homelessness, food poverty, mental health and social isolation but this is the tip of the iceberg.

“When I pledged £1m-a-week for an initial 12 weeks I said we were at war against coronavirus and nothing has changed my mind. It’s a war.

“The NHS continues to do a magnificent job but the charities are largely being forgotten and as the economy shrinks it will be the charities and the vulnerable people who suffer first and we can’t allow that to happen.

“I set the Steve Morgan Foundation up in 2001 and our small but dedicated team has been magnificent in approving applications as part of our Covid-19 Emergency Fund and paying the money into bank accounts as quickly as possible.”

Awards vary from a few hundred pounds to £150,000 but Mr Morgan said the key was being able to turn them around quickly.

In Cheshire, awards have included £14,400 to St Rocco’s Hospice in Bewsey, Warrington; £14,400 to Cheshire Without Abuse; £25,000 to Age Concern Cheshire; and £10,000 to Cheshire Down’s Syndrome Support.

In a separate award a Cheshire-based charity set up in the memory of two children killed in the 1993 Warrington bomb attack has been saved from closure after an emergency funding lifeline.

The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation was set up after the deaths of 12-year-old Tim Parry and three-year-old Johnathan Ball in the IRA bombing in Warrington town centre in March 1993.

A cash crisis made more acute by Covid-19 had forced the charity’s chief executive Nick Taylor to prepare to close the Peace Foundation until the Steve Morgan Foundation stepped in with emergency funding of £37,000.

Mr Taylor said: “We’ve been running this charity for 25 years and this is the first time we’d hit a cash crisis like this. I was preparing to take the heart-breaking decision to close huge sections of the Peace Foundation when the Steve Morgan Foundation stepped in with £37,000 that will enable us to keep running our services for the next three months.

“We all got really emotional when we found out and the words ‘thank you’ seem inadequate in the circumstances.”

Central Cheshire Buddy Scheme (CCBS), which supports children and young people with disabilities, will be able to continue their work after being handed a £7,340 grant by the Steve Morgan Foundation.

Youngsters were given ‘bags of happiness’ and co-founder Stephanie Lawley said: “We know some of our families are already in crisis and Covid-19 could tip them over the edge. The £7,340 from the Steve Morgan Foundation has enabled us to offer extra services to meet the needs of the families that need us the most.”

Mr Morgan, 67, said he hoped other entrepreneurs and philanthropists would follow his lead.

“The Steve Morgan Foundation is an enabler,” he said. “We work directly with charities in the front line. Unfortunately, the Foundation can’t help charities outside of our catchment area, as much as we might want to, which is why we’re appealing to other entrepreneurs and philanthropists across the UK to step up to the plate.”

Charities in Merseyside, Cheshire and North Wales looking for emergency funding should go to https://www.tfaforms.com/4811567