Posts in Category: Supporting Vulnerable People

West Wales Friend in Need (Carmarthenshire CC, Ceredigion CC, Pembrokeshire CC) 

During the pandemic the West Wales Friend in Need initiative was introduced with the help of funding from Age Cymru. The projects aim was to improve the ability for formal and informal volunteers to digitally connect with people across West Wales, in doing so reducing social isolation and loneliness. A regional project group was established for organisations to work together, the membership of the group consisting of Age Cymru Dyfed, Pembrokeshire County Council, Ceredigion County Council, Carmarthenshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services, Carmarthenshire Association of Voluntary Services and Ceredigion Association of Voluntary Organisations. A total of eleven community and voluntary groups received funding from the grant resulting in over 1,100 individuals benefitting from the initiative with 155 volunteers spending 1,975 hours working within their communities. 

Galw Gofal (Conwy CBC) 

Galw Gofal was established by Conwy County Borough Council’s Social Care and Education, Community Wellbeing Team to provide support in the home through telephone systems to improve peoples’ quality of life and independence. During the pandemic Galw Gofal services were extended to include those in the community who were shielding. In order to respond quickly to the growing need for support during the pandemic, Galw Gofal built on existing partnerships with organisations including Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Age Connects North Wales Central and Community & Voluntary Support Conwy. From March to August 2020 10,789 daily telephone check calls were made with staff responding to a range of enquiries from assistance with delivery of food and prescriptions to signposting to Community Wellbeing Teams for support to get online. 

Friend in Need (Bridgend CBC) 

During the COVID-19 pandemic Bridgend County Borough Council worked alongside Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations (BAVO) to expand the Community Companions befriending scheme recognising, the need to adapt approaches in relation to the pandemic and restrictions. BAVO and the Council wanted to provide support to individuals in different ways including telephone befriending to support social distancing particularly targeting older more isolated adults over the winter period. During 2020 there were 229 referrals received for befriending support. A total of 145 individuals were supported with befriending opportunities, with 102 volunteers involved in telephone befriending and 50 individuals involved in the pilot of the intergenerational pen pal scheme. This scheme has continued to grow despite the disruptions of schools closing and BAVO have made links with a local primary school during lockdown to write letters/drawings which were developed into postcards to send out to Community Companions beneficiaries and volunteers.

Connecting Communities (Bridgend CBC) 

Bridgend County Borough Council’s Connecting Communities programme has escalated the support provided to people and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations (BAVO) working with the Community Navigators are supporting a variety of community needs. The key levels of support include: prescription delivery, shopping services, food bank support including providing foodbank vouchers and delivering food parcels to those most in need, along with educating people on other affordable food provisions like the Food Pantries, welfare checks and telephone befriending. BAVO and the Connecting Communities programme work with external organisations and support services ensuring those most vulnerable access the support they need. There is a partners list of 77 organisations that have supported the Connecting Communities and also in a series of impact checks regarding the Connected Community support 214 individuals, 99% were happy with the support, signposting and information and advice the navigators had provided.

Monmouthshire Community Volunteering (Monmouthshire CC) 

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 

Gwynedd’s Community Spirit (Gwynedd C) 

Within the first two weeks at the start of lockdown in March 2020, over 600 people had registered to volunteer with Mantell Gwynedd’s Volunteer Bank. Gwynedd Council and third sector bodies held formal weekly online meetings and worked together in a more joined-up manner to serve the needs of communities by identifying gaps, sharing resources and stepping up to the demand. Although the nature of volunteering has changed since the initial lockdown with many people returning to work or education, the volunteering spirit has remained. Many of the people who originally registered to volunteer with Mantell Gwynedd at the beginning of the initial lockdown reached out to volunteer again during the Autumn Firebreak.

 

Further details are captured in New Local study (Jan 2021): Shifting the Balance: Local adaptation, innovation and collaboration during the pandemic and beyond

Well-Fed – from care home healthy meal provision to emergency food boxes (Flintshire CC) 

Well-fed is a partnership between Flintshire County CouncilClwyd Alyn and Can Cook – it is a food company dedicated to feeding everyone well. Since the COVID-19 crisis hit Well-fed has adapted its operation from supplying healthy ready meals to care homes to respond to the overwhelming need to provide emergency food in the county. Alongside healthy ready meals, the council has been delivering slow cooker bags and ‘Well-Fed safety boxes’ which were an enhancement on the Welsh Government Shielded boxes. The ‘seven day’ safety boxes were provided to those considered vulnerable, shielding for health reasons and those who needed food support for financial reasons and included a selection of ready meals, staple food items and toiletries.  

Regional Community Cohesion Service for North East Wales (Wrexham CBC, Denbighshire CC and Flintshire CC)  

Wrexham, Denbighshire and Flintshire councils have worked in partnership to deliver a Regional Community Cohesion Service (RCC) for North East Wales. The service supports around 40 community groups and third sector organisations that in turn actively support minority communities. 

Since March 2020, RCC has continued to support communities although as with most services, the focus has adapted to address the challenges posed by COVID19. In total around £20,000 has been awarded in grants to support specific schemes such as: 

  • provision of food parcels, personal protective equipment and online support; 

  • translated information packs; 

  • summer holiday socially distanced activities;  

  • support in relation to domestic violence and substance misuse during Covid-19; 

  • post Covid-19 volunteering and community engagement opportunities; and 

  • supporting the local Traveller Community during Covid-19 with remote education support. 

The RCC is not sitting back on its laurels. It has a seat on the Wales Council for Voluntary Action Emergency Covid-19 funds panel and is working with AVOW and key partners to identify and secure larger and more sustainable funds to support minority communities and individuals with projected characteristics. 

Web-based food parcel and welfare calls system (Powys CC)  

The Web Team at Powys County Council developed a web-based system in response to assessing whether eligible people were in need of regular food parcel deliveries, monitoring the wellbeing of vulnerable residents on a weekly or fortnightly basis and responding to needs for support from Powys Social Care or Community Connectors volunteers. 

The system used ‘shielding people’ data and other internal ‘vulnerable individual’ data, which the council stored in a database. By clicking on a name from a list a web form opens for call handlers to record customers’ answers to questions based on an agreed script. The council developed automatic triggers to email Adult Social Care or Community Connectors or generate a food parcel request (if eligible) based on customers’ answers to the questions and the nature of the support needed.  

Between April 3rd and August 14th, a total of 23,791 calls were made by Powys County Council staff resulting in 

  • 649 Welsh Government food parcels being ordered 

  • 438 requests for a call back from the resident's local county councillor 

  • 459 requests for help with basic care needs which were passed on to ASSIST 

  • 1,654 referrals to PAVO's Community Connector Service (of these 1,076 wanted help with food, 373 needed help with their prescriptions and 205 wished to talk to a volunteer) 

  • 150 referrals over safeguarding 

Winter Well-being Hub (Ceredigion CC)  

Ceredigion County Council have created a new online Winter Well-being Hub to support the wellbeing of Ceredigion residents over the autumn and winter months.  

Activities and events that would normally take place during this time of year are no longer possible due to the pandemic. So, the Hub provides a range of activities to undertake on-line and includes information and videos on a range of topics such as available support, health and wellbeing, young people and learning.  

The Winter Well-being is in line with the Council’s Winter Strategy, to protect the health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable, including care services for the elderly and those whose medical conditions make them particularly at risk from COVID-19. 

Launch of the Carers Card (Ceredigion CC)  

Carer Card has been launched by Ceredigion County Council, for unpaid carers who look after family members or friends who would not be able to manage on their own without the support and care of an unpaid carer. 

The Carer Card is a photo ID card issued by Ceredigion County Council’s Carers Unit to carers aged 18 and over who have registered with the councils Carers Information Service. 

The card has been developed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the early months of the pandemic, many carers contacted the council to ask for something they could use to prove that they are caring for someone if they were challenged when collecting and delivering essential supplies for that person. 

Cardholders will have access to priority shopping opportunities with retailers who are participating in the scheme. A list of retailers and other benefits is available on the councils Carer Card page. 

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.

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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