Double awards nod for Scots founder of charity helping those affected by Covid

A Scot who set up a charity to support people “significantly” affected by Covid-19 is up for two prestigious awards – but is also calling for more action to help those whose lives have been “shattered” by the disease.

Michael MacLennan, boss of “the UK's national Covid-19 charity” Covid Aid, has just been unveiled as one of the Rising Chief Executive candidates at the Third Sector Awards, after recently being announced as being up for the Entrepreneur For Good, Scotland & Northern Ireland, prize at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

He said: "It's an amazing feeling to have been nominated just over a year since we launched, and it emboldens us to do even more in the months ahead – which is crucial with the numbers of people with long Covid growing substantially, and more lives being lost to Covid every day.”

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Covid-19 cases in Scotland have been rising, with one in 15 people estimated to have the virus in the week ending July 14. Additionally, as of July 17, 15,179 deaths have been registered north of the Border where the disease was mentioned on the death certificate, according to National Records of Scotland.

Mr MacLennan, who lives in Glasgow where Covid Aid is based, said that in January last year he had been mulling ways to help. “There had been a new [Covid-19] wave over the festive season, and I was inspired by those around me who were doing amazing things under the most difficult of circumstances.”

He saw no “visible” Covid-19 charity in the UK, and now states: “It seemed clear that as the pandemic continued there would be the need for a specialist organisation which could provide tailored support for those affected by issues such as long Covid and Covid-related bereavement, and partner together to support other charities and organisations who were struggling to cope.

“It's not easy to start a charity, but I was especially fortunate in the people who got involved and helped us build an innovative start-up… We have had more than 60 people volunteering their time and over 800 members of our Covid Aid Support Community, and together we have been able to reach more than 150,000 people across the UK with support, advice, and information.

Covid Aid boss Michael MacLennan with the charity's head of operations Katie Boyd at a previous award event. Picture: Jack Donaghy.

Call for support

"The need is especially urgent in Scotland right now, with more than 150,000 people [and growing] living with Long Covid… Our Covid Aid Support Community hosts courses, live expert Q&As, weekly peer support groups and much more, and we require support to be able to expand our services and support.”

Looking ahead, Mr MacLennan, who is from Conon Bridge, said: “We want to provide a voice for our community and those with long Covid with more research and medical support required to help those whose lives have been shattered.

"People are too often being ignored, and long Covid needs to be recognised as a disability by employers. Those who have lost loved ones require support – the circumstances in which they have experienced grief has often meant that they feel isolated and without knowing who to speak to.

"We need to recognise the severity of what people have experienced – and reflect the fact that the pandemic is still ongoing, and people are continuing to have their lives irrevocably affected by the effects of Covid-19.”

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