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COVID-19 film and TV emergency relief fund applications now open

The Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund has been launched to provide much-needed support to the thousands of active workers and freelancers who have been hit hardest by the closure of productions across the UK. Created by The Film and TV Charity in close partnership with the BFI, the fund is open for applications supported by initial donations, totaling £2.5 million, from Netflix, the BFI, BBC Studios, BBC Content, WarnerMedia and several generous individuals.

The time-limited fund is being administered by The Film and TV Charity, with support from BFI staff. The two organizations are covering all overhead, enabling donations to go directly to eligible workers and freelancers across film, TV and cinema. One-off grants of between £500 and £2,500 will be awarded based on need. Applications will remain open for two weeks.

According to a recent online survey, more than nine in 10 (93%) industry freelancers are no longer working due to the crisis; three-quarters (74%) are not expected to receive any support since they are either ineligible for the self-employment income support scheme or have not been furloughed as PAYE freelancers under the Job Retention Scheme. Three-quarters (74%) of respondents said they were very or extremely worried about their income in coming months while nearly half (45%) said they were worried about meeting basic living costs (food, medicine, accommodation).

Applications for the one-off grants can be made via The Film and TV Charity’s website.

“Unprecedented times call for an exceptional response,” commented The Film and TV Charity CEO, Alex Pumfrey. “The Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund is unique, time-limited and designed to provide financial support where the need is most acute. Our systems will highlight applicants who are experiencing particular distress and our experienced team will respond to those red flags with personal follow-up calls.”

“We know a huge number of freelance professionals in our community have been some of the hardest hit during the coronavirus crisis, so we are delighted that the fund is now open for applications,” added BFI chief executive, Ben Roberts. “We are also incredibly thankful for the generosity shown by industry partners and individuals who have stepped in so far to support their colleagues.”

The Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund is launching an appeal by The Film and TV Charity for additional donations. It is also unveiling the new Covid-19 Film and TV Repayable Grants Scheme offering support for industry freelancers waiting for payments under the Government’s Self-employment Income Support Scheme. Interest-free grants of up to £2,000 will be offered to those eligible for Self-employment Income Support but who are struggling while waiting for payments in June. The Covid-19 Film and TV Repayable Grants Scheme opens Wednesday, April 15. Applicants will have one week to make a claim via The Film and TV Charity’s website.

The Film and TV Charity, which has supported people working behind the scenes for almost 100 years, provides further support and advice. The Relief Fund and Repayable Grants Scheme sit beside the Charity’s existing Hardship Fund which offers grants of up to £500 to provide stop-gap support. The charity already provides 24/7 mental health support to the industry, including counselling and legal advice, via the Film and TV Support Line on 0800 054 00 00.

Recognizing the significant mental health pressures arising as a result of Covid-19, the charity is now developing new advice on how to stay mentally well at home and creating a new supportive community forum for freelancers in line with the charity’s Whole Picture Programme for better mental health.

The BFI is leading an industry wide Screen Sector Task Force that is looking at the wide-ranging impacts of Covid-19 on the whole industry and its workforce, as well as working closely with government to ensure that all the ramifications and impacts are considered. AWN

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