Monmouthshire County Council and third sector organisations worked together during the initial lockdown in March 2020 to build a support structure for community groups. The support structure involved training and screening volunteers for safeguarding, sharing information, building neighbourhood networks and providing a single point of contact in the council who could assist the groups with any challenges they were facing. Asset-based principles and belief and trust in communities were the foundations of the council’s strategy to manage lockdown. The strength of the council’s relationships with the existing community groups and new mutual aid groups meant that the council was able to benefit from the support of the communities in much more than shopping and collecting prescriptions. This type of approach led by the community and driven by personal relationships has inspired the creation of the county’s new Town Ambassador Programme. Organised by town councils, with support from the county council and GAVO, the programme sees local volunteers meet with those who feel uncertain about leaving their homes and walk with them around the town centre. The volunteers are given training so they can advise about the COVID-19 measures in place around the town centre and shops, chat about general wellbeing and signpost to local services.
Further details are captured in New Local study (Jan 2021): Shifting the Balance: Local adaptation, innovation and collaboration during the pandemic and beyond