Posts in Category: COVID-19

Communicating with Bridgend residents during COVID-19 (Bridgend CBC) 

Bridgend County Borough Council’s website has been a key source of information for residents during the pandemic, with daily updates on Covid-19 support.

To reach residents without access to digital platforms, the council distributed leaflets to all households in the borough highlighting support from the council during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This included making people aware that support is available in a variety of different languages - for example, the ‘support for people in the pandemic’ page of the council website features links to multilingual Welsh Government resources.

The council issued 90 specific Covid-19 lockdown news updates to key audiences, at a rate of one a day between March and July, and have developed this into an ongoing bi-weekly media update to keep key audiences informed about latest developments during the pandemic.

The council works closely with umbrella organisations, e.g. the Bridgend Community Cohesion and Equality Forum and the Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations, to distribute information to specific groups.

They work alongside partners such as Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board, South Wales Police, town and community councils etc. to disseminate information, and support these partners by using their council communication channels to share information that they have produced.

Denbighshire Proactive Calling Project and befriending service (Denbighshire CC) 

During the lockdown period, Denbighshire County Council set up the ‘proactive calling project’. In addition to calling all of the shielding residents in the county, they called all non-shielding vulnerable people over the age of 70. Scripts were produced and followed to ensure all residents were offered all support available, including a referral to the Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council (which links volunteers with those who need a bit of extra help) or support from the council’s befriending service.

The befriending service was set up to help those who feel isolated and want someone to chat too. Volunteers, including councillors, have a chat with residents to help their well-being during this uncertain and for some, lonely, time.

The be-friending service is continuing after much success during the lockdown.

The Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council are also continuing their support, linking volunteers with those who need a bit of extra help e.g. shopping and collecting prescriptions.

The Denbighshire County Council Community Resource Pack, put together to help residents with support during the lockdown period, continues to be updated and available on the website. 

Welfare checks and support for council tenants (Wrexham CBC) 

Since 23 March 2020, 21,595 welfare calls have been made by Wrexham County Borough Council Housing Officers to their council tenants.

All Council tenants have been contacted at least once and officers are continuing with a second round of welfare calls, although this is now being impacted by the re-commencement of other housing functions and many tenants returning to work.  Tenants who couldn’t be reached by telephone have received a letter asking them to make contact with their Housing Office.

During the pandemic the support offered by the council’s Housing Officers has included financial advice and assistance, assistance with submitting Universal Credit claims and Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP), arranging affordable rent payment plans with tenants who were furloughed, and referrals to the Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham for food parcels, prescription delivery and shopping. 

Officers also promoted services that may be beneficial for isolating tenants and made referrals to agencies offering support and advice on loneliness, domestic violence, mental health, and anti-social behaviour. Officers were also advising on the free school meals provision and raising awareness of scams to help keep vulnerable tenants safe.  For some tenants, the calls just meant a friendly person for them to speak to as they were feeling isolated.  The calls were very well received and appreciated by tenants.

Supporting Bridgend’s carers during the pandemic (Bridgend CBC) 

In Bridgend, considerable effort has been made to ensure carers have the support they need during the pandemic.

The Council’s existing Carers Wellbeing Service provided a 24 hour helpline to support carers during Lockdown. The service received a high level of calls and proved to be of high value to carers during the challenging period.

The council’s carer services have developed/introduced a range of ways to communicate with carers during the pandemic, including posters and information, direct telephone calls to check on the wellbeing of carers, regular emails, using video technology such as zoom and using social media.In addition, services such as counselling sessions and advice have been provided over the telephone to support carers.

Arrangements have been made for carers in Bridgend county borough to be provided PPE in line with the national guidance.

Adapting support for Merthyr Tydfil’s young carers (Merthyr Tydfil CBC) 

Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council’s service for young carers has needed to adapt to a new way of working during the pandemic, to meet young carers needs and support their safety.

Assessments are now undertaken via digital means or via socially distanced garden sessions.

Group sessions, such as the young carers choir, are now undertaken via zoom. There has also been a move to digital and outdoor one to one sessions.

The council makes contact with all young carers weekly, during which emotional and practical support is explored. Practical support includes help with tasks such as shopping, an activity which may previously have been supported by an extended family member. Supporting young carers to engage in educational sessions and access digital learning has been an area of support the young carers service has worked with education colleagues to achieve.

The council has also frequently provided young carers with activity and resource packs.

The high level of contact maintained with young carers during the pandemic has allowed the council to adjust to their support needs, whilst working in a manner that adheres to government guidance.

 

Partnership working at the heart of reopening tourism (Pembrokeshire CC) 

Pembrokeshire County Council’s approach to managing the destination to ensure visitors, staff and communities were kept safe over the summer involved significant partnership working.

At a regional level, the council worked with Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion County Councils, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority (PCNPA) and Hywel Dda University Health Board to advise Welsh Government on the approach to safely reopening the tourism economy. On a Pembrokeshire footprint, the tourism infrastructure task and finish group, comprising Pembrokeshire County Council, PCNPA, Pembrokeshire Tourism and PLANED, along with other partners such as the National Trust and Dyfed Powys Police, have worked together to coordinate the approach to reopening the visitor infrastructure and the risk planning and communication strategies.

The authority established an Incident Management Centre (IMC), which operated seven days a week, morning to night, throughout the summer holiday period and included multiagency meetings involving the Police, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Fire and Rescue, Ambulance and PCNPA. A visitor welcome team, alongside other staff from a range of council departments and partner agencies, fed information on the ground through to the IMC for speedy resolution. Issues being managed included social distancing, litter, anti-social behaviour, wild camping, parking infringements etc.

17 September 2020 14:35:00 Categories: COVID-19 COVID-19 (Tourism - Partnership) Economy Pembrokeshire

Residents, businesses and local stakeholders involved in economic recovery (Newport CC) 

Economic recovery, including the safe reopening of the city centre, is critical for Newport City Council and an economic recovery plan has been adopted by the council’s cabinet.

A survey of residents and businesses was undertaken to understand people’s concerns and priorities and a Task and Finish Group was set up to focus on how to embark on economic recovery in a safe and informed way. This group includes representation from the Newport Now BID, Gwent Police, Registered Social Landlords, Business Representatives (including the Chamber of Commerce) and third sector groups such as the Newport Access Group, Guide Dogs Cymru and Newport People First. The focus of the group has been on communication and information, supporting Newport businesses, place making and public safety.

Libraries go online to support users remotely (Vale of Glamorgan C) 

During lockdown, libraries in Vale of Glamorgan developed online initiatives to continue to support library users remotely. As services re-open, they are maintaining or increasing levels of online activity and see this as being the start of a new way of working and providing content online.

The libraries have made extensive use of social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, to provide numerous activities including bilingual storytimes from Cowbridge library, and interactive sing-a-long rhyme time videos from Penarth library.

Much of the work to create these videos is done by staff from home using their own equipment and their own expertise in filming and editing video content.

Online clubs for both adults and children have been established in place of existing library-based clubs, including an online book club, online lego clubs, code clubs and art clubs.

Phase one of re-opening Vale of Glamorgan libraries involved providing a Click & Collect book service to customers, for which they developed an online booking system which has proved effective.

The general presence of Vale of Glamorgan Libraries on social media became a focus and they have found they are reaching a wider new audience through regular posting of interesting and humorous content, rather than simply making announcements, and sharing updates.

Repurposing tourist attraction to support the community (Caerphilly CBC) 

Llancaiach Fawr Manor is a tourist attraction located in Nelson, Caerphilly which portrays life in 1645 through live interpretation to approximately 60,000 visitors and school children each year. There are also conference rooms, an education centre, a café, restaurant and gift shop.

During the lockdown period, the majority of staff volunteered to be redeployed to the buddy scheme, to pick up prescriptions and shopping for the vulnerable residents of the county borough who were shielding. Others joined the Track and Trace Programme Team.

The education centre has been temporarily repurposed as a distribution hub. Donations are collected by staff and parcels created for delivery to food banks.

The bar and restaurant have been utilised for the provision of a childcare hub run in partnership with the Caerphilly County Borough Council Youth Service, School and Music service, Arts Development Team and Healthy Schools Service to ease childcare issues during the summer holidays for Blue Light Workers.

Preparations for the ‘new normal’ have included delivering workshops online and providing an outreach service to schools. The café has re-opened and the formal gardens and patio area furnished with outdoor seating. Take away meals and Sunday lunches have gone from strength to strength. 

 

Theatr Clwyd remains vital for its community during pandemic (Flintshire CC) 

Theatr Clwyd in Mold, Flintshire has not put on a show in months but has remained vital for its community during the pandemic.

It has been the main centre for blood donations in North East Wales, supporting the NHS to keep up their blood stocks.

Working with the council’s social services, they have helped to get food stocks out to families in need within the county. They have also run a successful ‘Rainbow Box’ appeal, which asked members of the community to donate boxes of arts and crafts materials for vulnerable young people. Over 300 were donated and distributed.

The theatre moved all of its weekly workshops online (from dementia groups to youth sessions) and has been delivering them to over 200 people per week.

Over the summer, the theatre became one of the main hubs for vulnerable and disabled children in Flintshire and also offered spaces for North Wales NHS children during the summer holidays.

The theatre has also supported a young local boy, who was accepted at the Royal Ballet School but whose place has been postponed. Following contact from his local Councillor, he has been training twice a week on stage.

Neighbourhood Hubs support vulnerable residents during lockdown (Newport CC) 

Newport’s four Neighbourhood Hubs proved invaluable in supporting and assisting some of the city’s most vulnerable residents during the lockdown.

A Freephone number was established to ensure residents had easy access to support and the hubs teams have distributed over 800 emergency food parcels. Activity packs have been provided for younger and older residents and in collaboration with Health colleagues, baby bundles have been provided for new parents struggling during the lockdown period. 

Hubs staff have also contacted over 5000 shielding residents. They have provided a check in service during these calls, offering support and making referrals to partner agencies where required. General support with shopping, prescription collection, befriending and dog walking has been provided by referrals through to Volunteering Matters Wales

Other community groups have been eager to help vulnerable residents, including the Newport Yemeni Community Association, who have been delivering food to isolating residents and Save the Children, who have provided essentials to families, including access to digital resources. A Newport wide survey identified more than 2,500 children without access to a digital device or a reliable internet connection. As a result nearly 800 devices were loaned to pupils along with 1261 units to provide a 4G internet connection.

Safe and Well Project to support vulnerable residents (Neath Port Talbot C) 

The Neath Port Talbot Council Safe and Well Service was established at the start of the coronavirus outbreak to support residents who were shielding and had nobody to call on for help with daily living tasks such as shopping and collecting medicines.

Members and officers also identified other groups of people who needed support, including people who needed to self-isolate and had no support, young carers, parents of children entitled to free school meals unable to receive BACS payments; and carers of people shielding and self-isolating.

Approximately 1,300 people received support from the service between the end of March 2020 and the end of June 2020.

A food hub was established where staff from a number of different departments collaborated to source food, ensure its safe storage, handling and distribution, made deliveries, kept good records, prepared healthy menus that catered for specific dietary requirements and ensured emergency food provision where circumstances warranted it. These arrangements were identified by Welsh Government as an example of good practice.

Circa 100 employees volunteered in their own time and circa 450 residents registered an interest to volunteer with the service. Volunteers were trained and then worked with local councillors to support the local community. A Volunteer Co-ordinator will be recruited in order to support the project and function and a strategy is being developed with input from councillors and community organisations to establish what will be needed in the ‘new normal’.

Council Buy Local directory (Neath Port Talbot CBC) 

At the start of the lockdown, Neath Port Talbot council created NPT Buy Local, a simple online directory on NPT.gov.uk showing which local businesses were providing home deliveries and support.

This was built to test the hypothesis that it would help residents during Covid-19 by signposting them to local businesses, provide exposure for local businesses with a digital listing on our website and help support and grow the local economy.

It has had a positive impact, with 6,000 page views since its launch. Many residents shopped for the first time with their local greengrocer, butcher or farm store as they were unable to shop online with the major supermarkets who could not cope with demand and for the first time many local businesses who were digitally excluded had the opportunity to reach new customers online.

Further iterations have been delivered, improving the layout of the directory, creating categories to make it easier for residents to locate businesses and setting up a database to store and manage business listings.

The Council now intends to build on the work already delivered during Covid-19 to bring the council, its businesses and residents closer together, with the vision of creating a platform for a virtual high street to complement (not compete with) the traditional high street.

Support to volunteer groups meeting COVID challenges (Monmouthshire CC) 

In Monmouthshire, challenges associated with COVID-19 have been met with an incredible and collective response by communities and organisations- over sixty volunteer led community groups with over 1000 volunteers mobilised overnight. Monmouthshire Council’s strategy was to tackle COVID-19 with communities and to support the volunteer groups in every way they could.

The council coordinated a ‘virtual community network’, with a clear collective purpose- to protect life and support communities, with no gaps and no duplication. 

While the community groups were able to develop fast, local solutions that changed people’s lives during lockdown and shielding, the council could provide structure through partnership working. Social Workers professionally and efficiently screened all individuals to ensure it was appropriate for a volunteer to support them and then allocated the support in a timely manner. 

To supplement the virtual networks, the council launched an online community- Our Monmouthshire, providing an alternative structure for people to ask for and offer help.

Aware of the potential in communities, the council delivers the Community Leadership Programme, which offers a suite of training, learning and personal development opportunities for community volunteers, for example- Successful Grant Writing training for volunteer groups exploring next steps after COVID-19. 

Cross-departmental working to deliver business grants (Pembrokeshire CC) 

By working across departments to respond to the need to deliver grants to local businesses, Pembrokeshire County Council, a small local authority, was able to go live with the grants within days and has now delivered over £52M into the local economy. 

The council used a mixture of matrix management and secondments to draw staff in from Regeneration and Economic Development, Revenue and Benefits, External Funding Teams and Finance and Employability. Part of this was a recognition that no one team has the skills to deliver everything and there was a requirement to work as ‘Team Pembrokeshire’.

Autism Wellbeing (Carmarthenshire CC) 

Autism Wellbeing is a not-for-profit social enterprise set up in May 2018 and run by a mix of autistic and non-autistic directors. Their aim is to increase the wellbeing of autistic people and to reduce their experience of distress.

Autism Wellbeing provides a range of services to autistic people and their families, all of which are informed by the principles of Responsive Communication and Sensory Attachment Intervention. They also provide a compassionate, knowledgeable telephone helpline for autistic people and parents of autistic children – 07393664048. In addition, Autism Wellbeing operate two online peer-to-peer support groups, one for autistic people and one for parents of autistic children. These groups are safe spaces where group members can share experiences and ideas as well as give and receive support.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Autism Wellbeing received a grant from the Carmarthenshire Covid-19 Community Response Fund, supported by Carmarthenshire County Council, to produce a Covid-19 Support Pack for Families with Autistic Children. This pack has proven hugely popular, and has been shared energetically by allies such as the National Autism Team via social media. The pack contains 17 information sheets on topics including each of the eight sense systems as well as ideas to support parents, children and families to regulate themselves and each other – C-19 Free Resources.

Autism Leads Covid-19 (All Wales) 

There are currently 29 Autism Leads in Local Authorities across Wales which forms a network of shared practice and engagement. Throughout Covid-19, the network has continued to support and engage with their local autistic communities. Some examples of their innovative practice:

  • Continued one-to-one ‘virtual’ support of vulnerable adults, or those with very high needs in Blaenau Gwent.
  • A virtual VE Day party to keep the community connected in Wrexham.
  • Storybooks explaining Covid-19 to young children, including autistic children provided in Flintshire.
  • A “card” developed to provide autistic people with improved communication mechanisms with emergency services during lockdown in Denbighshire.
  • A virtual “forum” for young autistic adults developing skills for life in Cardiff & Vale.
  • A thorough “lessons learned” evaluation throughout the lockdown period, resulting in a re-designing and re-shaping of some services in Torfaen.
  • Ten “hubs” opened during lockdown to support families in Pembrokeshire.
  • Engagement with autistic adults and those with a learning disability through the lockdown period in Gwynedd.

The National Autism Team (NAT) have continued to facilitate the quarterly National Autism Leads network meetings virtually, and introduced regional “Hwb” meetings, to encourage strong engagement across the specialism and to provide an opportunity to share good practice on a national, regional and local level. The attendance levels have been record-breaking via this new format, as more Leads are able to attend with the absence of travel time.

The Leads continue to play an essential role in disseminating information from the NAT locally, and informing national policy and guidance through local networks and engagement in a grass-roots approach. The network continues to ‘sign-post’ the people they support and professional colleagues to the NAT Covid-19 Information webpage, and Facebook and Twitter pages.

Virtual Autism Team Wales Covid-19 (All Wales) 

A “Virtual Autism Team Wales” was established by the National Autism Team (NAT) at the beginning of Covid-19 lockdown, and its meetings continue to be facilitated and led by the National Autism Professional Lead. The Group includes autistic people, professionals from Health and Social Care, voluntary organisations from across Wales and the NAT. The Group has been meeting weekly to discuss “live” issues facing the autistic community and to prepare useful resources to support autistic people and their families and carers during Covid-19.

The resources are then shared to the NAT’s Covid-19 Information hub webpage and published to the NAT’s Facebook and Twitter pages. All resources that the Group produce are available in Welsh and English, and include, but are not limited to:

The meetings take place virtually, which allows psychologists and psychiatrists from across the country to attend, who would otherwise not be able to due to travel time constraints. As lockdown restrictions continue to ease in Wales, the Group will meet less frequently, but continue to develop useful advice and guidance regarding issues such as transition back to school, transportation and vaccination.

“Virtual” Model for delivering Youth Services (Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC) 

Rhondda Cynon Taf’s (RCT) Youth Engagement and Participation Service (YEPS) is committed to supporting young people aged 11 to 25 to improve their resilience to deal with current and future challenges, supporting their well-being and their positive engagement in and contribution to the communities in which they live.

The new ‘Virtual’ delivery model has been swiftly developed and rolled out which in addition to instant messaging services, virtual youth clubs on zoom and instagram Q&Q sessions etc, includes WICID.TV, for young people not engaged in education, employment or training, which features instructional videos on a range of topics, such as applying for a job, STAR techniques, virtual job interviews and more videos are being added on a weekly basis. The Employment, Education & Training (EET) section also includes links to apprenticeships on offer in RCT, Career Wales support, college virtual open days etc. In partnership the Council were also able to offer the first virtual work experience week in RCT, which encouraged many post 16 young people to go on-line to source careers advice, etc.

School catering initial response to Free School Meals (FSM) (All Wales) 

Following the announcement from Welsh Government that statutory education would be suspended from mid-March 2020, one of the biggest concerns was how to provide for those children eligible for FSM during this period. In the first few weeks Local Authorities (LAs) provided school packed lunches to be collected from schools, local hubs or delivered to the homes. However, take-up was low and waste was high therefore not sustainable in the long-term.

Welsh Government generously announced that £7M was to be made available for LAs to provide FSMs to eligible pupils during the Easter holidays and a further £33M up until the end of the summer holidays. In response, WLGA hosted and managed online national and regional meetings with LA caterers and Welsh Government to track and share information about school catering response and issues. These meetings contributed to the FSM Guidance issued by Welsh Government.

During this initial period LAs developed and refined their provision in line with their local need and demand and offered the following options: direct payments (17), food delivery (10), food vouchers (8) or a pick-up service (1). However, the majority of LAs offered multiple options, which worked well and demonstrated the importance of a local approach to support their local communities.

The WLGA developed and issued each LA with Making the most of your FSM food vouchers or payments leaflet for distribution to parents, providing useful tips on planning, shopping and preparing nutritionally balanced food, along with a suggested shopping list. Data Cymru also collated data on the response of LA’s to providing FSM during this period.

Further information on the initial response can be found in the ‘Overview of FSM responses to COVID-19 in Wales’ presentation

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