IT has been a lifeline to many affected during the pandemic from those living with long covid or those were severely impacted.

And in its first year, Covid Aid, which was set up during the pandemic, was even nominated for charity of the year.

As the numbers of those living with Long Covid exceeds more than 150,000, the charity is helping thousands every week, but now they are facing a funding battle to retain staff.

Read more: Watch: Scotland's Covid Memorial officially opened by John Swinney

Covid Aid has been offering help and to those with Long Covid, people who have lost loved ones and also those facing financial issues as a result of Covid.

Founder Michael MacLennan said: “When launched in May 2020 we began signposting people to charities, but as we got up and running and started to run information articles related to Long Covid and related.

“Towards the end of last year we launched our support community which is an online, safe space and is led by the members. There are now more than 750 members. We have reached more than 125,000 people through our website hub.”


Covid Aid began in response to the pandemic

Covid Aid began in response to the pandemic


The online group has now developed to offer courses and hosts expert Q&As with groups including recently the charity MIND and there is also a virtual weekly café where people can meet up and share their experiences.

Mr MacLennan believes that as the attention on Covid diminishes it is difficult for them to continue with what they want to do.

Mr MacLennan, who volunteers his time, added: “It is now a case of living with Covid but in actual fact there are people living with Long Covid whose lives have been changed. There are 1000s of people who have lost loved and due to the nature of grief in the pandemic have not been able to properly recognise that and go through the grieving process.

“We feel the case for the charity is stronger than ever because there is a need for support for those who have been affected.”

“However, Covid Aid is now facing the situation where they are having to reduce their paid staff members due to funding issues.

Mr MacLennan added: “It is clear that we will be experiencing Covid as an issue for some time. People are still losing loved ones or getting Long Covid, but it is vital that there is support. We need significant funding to provide more support in the year to come.

“We are aware that there is more than 150,000 people in Scotland with Long Covid. That number is growing, it is not contracting. Getting funding has been extremely difficult and challenging and we are having to go from four full time staff to one paid team member.

“We have struggled to get funding through the likes of the Long Covid Support fund so far which means we can’t expand and are reducing what we can do instead.”

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Earlier this year Scottish LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton proposed a motion in the parliament congratulating them for the work they have done.

“We were also able to make the case to the minister for Public Health Marie Todd that we need additional support, added Mr MacLennan. “We ran our services on little more than £30,000, but if we secured funding we could reach 250,000 and support networks across the country. Funding for us is crucial and it cannot wait for the people who need the support.”


Deputy First Minister John Swinney laid a wreath and joined families on a walk at the opening of Scotlands Covid Memorial, a campaign initiated and led by The Herald

Deputy First Minister John Swinney laid a wreath and joined families on a walk at the opening of Scotland's Covid Memorial, a campaign initiated and led by The Herald


Among those who could not have been without the help of the charity, which has also supported The Herald’s Covid Memorial which was opened at Glasgow’s Pollok Country Park, is Maria Blanchard who sought the charity’s help since the death of her father from Covid in July 2021.

“Dad caught Covid in 2021 and passed away very suddenly. Dad had complex health problems including diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis but I had been his carer throughout the pandemic and we had managed to keep him safe,” she said.


Families gathered in Pollok Country Park for the opening of the National Covid Memorial

Families gathered in Pollok Country Park for the opening of the National Covid Memorial


Three months after he died, Ms Blanchard was finding it very difficult to come to terms with what had happened. One of her friends suggested that she turn it into an opportunity to mark his memory through helping a charity so she started a fundraiser for Covid Aid.

She added: “I found Covid Aid by googling covid charities. They were the first ones that came up.” She turned to them for help and started listening to the podcast and found she could dip in as much or as little as she wanted, adjusting to how she was feeling at the time.

Now Ms Blanchard volunteers, helping with the virtual coffee morning weekly as well as coming up with new fundraising ideas.