Posts From October, 2020

Conwy Community Support Service (Conwy CBC) 

Conwy County Borough Council established the Community Support Service(CSS) helpline in March 2020, the purpose of which was to provide assistance to anyone within the community who wasn’t able to call on friends, family or neighbours to ask for help with picking up shopping, delivering medication etc. Assistance was initially provided through volunteer matching and we then moved on to using temporarily redeployed staff from other services within the council. Volunteers were encouraged to register with Community & Voluntary Support Conwy(CVSC) to be matched with local organisations. Conwy CBC have an agreement with a number of local shops and both Tesco stores in the county to take payment over the phone from individuals using the CSS for shopping requests. When the Conwy Staff are at the till, the shop ring the customer who then pay for their shopping over the phone. There is also a process in place to assist if individuals have no means to pay by card over the phone. The CSS service has been scaled back in line with easing lockdown rules and the number of requests we receive reduce. All surgeries and pharmacies have been informed and have been encouraged to register with the RedCross if they need assistance with prescription deliveries.

Neath Port Talbot Council supports schools with home learning (Neath Port Talbot CBC) 

Schools supported home learning throughout the lockdown period.

Neath Port Talbot Council surveyed all of their schools on their distance learning provision and a Continuity of Learning Plan was written and shared with all schools as a result.

The survey identified any shortcomings with regards to training and support required and council officers supported any school that required technical support in order to deliver distance learning.

The council has provided over 1000 devices for pupils with no appropriate IT equipment and / or internet access.

In preparation for re-opening, all NPT schools prepared recovery plans and risk assessments based on the guidance provided by the council school improvement team and Welsh Government, and the council provided guidance on Blended Learning. During reopening, the council ensured Headteachers received weekly support to update them on key developments and to discuss concerns. A dedicated FAQ portal was established.

Tackling Food Poverty through the Pandemic (Swansea CC) 

At the beginning of the pandemic Swansea Council and its partners in the Health and Voluntary Sectors came together to form a coordinated response. One element of which was the establishment a working group consisting of redeployed officers from Cultural Services, Poverty and Prevention, Local Area Coordination and Swansea Council for Voluntary Service (SCVS). The Council and SCVS began to map food provision across the county to ensure that any individuals in need had access to information on where to source appropriate food. The information was provided on the Council’s website, and also via the SCVS direct signposting service, which gathered information by GP Cluster area. The Council has supported the community foodbanks throughout the pandemic, via the donations and purchased product, managed at the Food Distribution Centres, and SCVS have successfully secured FareShare deliveries for several independent food banks in the County. If there is an urgent need for food and other essentials, all individuals are linked into this network and a ‘crisis pack’ will be delivered either by the local authority or SCVS. Swansea Together, a public-third-private sector partnership between SCVS, the Local Authority, Matthew’s House, Crisis, The Wallich, Zac’s Place and Mecca Bingo has provided thousands of meals to very vulnerable people during the crisis. The partnership has been supported with advice, promotion, food supplies, volunteers and transport by both SCVS and the Local Authority.

Supporting Isolated Vulnerable People through the Buddy Scheme (Caerphilly CBC) 

During the third week of March Caerphilly CBC wrote to all 70,000 plus households in the county borough offering support for people concerned about the UK Government advice to self-isolate if over 70, or with an underlying health condition, if they felt they would be unable to cope with daily shopping or picking up prescriptions. 1560 older and vulnerable adults rang the dedicated helpline asking for support. At the same time a call to action was issued to staff able to help as volunteers to provide an immediate response. Over 590 staff eventually ended up acting as Buddies being matched with up to 10 older and vulnerable adults/families each. As accessing cash was a difficulty, and no WCVA cash handling guidance existed at that time, corporate credit cards and petty cash access was set up at short notice to prevent allegations of financial abuse and fraud. Residents were invoiced at a later date for shopping bought on their behalf. At the same time the Council provided enhanced DBS checked drivers to local pharmacies to help with deliveries of medication as normal driver services were not operational. As the lockdown eased and shielding ended many staff have continued to maintain a befriending role with the people they have been supporting. The scheme is now working with the voluntary sector and local community groups to support the lesser number of people still requiring support through the Community Regeneration Team working with the local CVC. A jointly appointed Volunteer Coordinator is helping to manage the Buddy Scheme with a view to developing a more formal corporate volunteering scheme as a legacy. The Community Regeneration Team are working closely with local community COVID volunteer groups particularly in helping isolated people registered on the Buddy Scheme become more connected to their communities.

Locality Response Service to support Vulnerable People (Blaenau Gwent CBC) 

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council pulled together a Locality Response Service staffed by redeployed staff to support the increased demand for non-statutory support related to COVID-19 restrictions during the height of the pandemic and to protect front line social care. This service worked closely with the Third sector to provide ongoing support through this time for residents. Residents have been supported with grant applications, food banks, ongoing referrals for specialist support such as mental health, Gwent Drug and Alcohol Support, supporting people services and social services if required. At the beginning of lockdown and through the summer the council dealt with over 1000 requests for help with shopping, collecting prescriptions and other befriending activities. As restrictions eased and shielding paused, the council looked at options to scale back the service. The team directly contacted all open cases to ensure they could transition into a more sustainable support arrangement. 

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.

 

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