Posts in Category: Supporting Vulnerable People

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’.

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. 

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.

Support for Monmouthshire’s Foodbanks during the Covid Crisis (Monmouthshire CC) 

Monmouthshire County Council work closely Trussell Trust and Ravenhouse Trust food banks in the county. At the point of lockdown many of the food bank volunteers, often elderly or at risk could no longer support the food banks directly and there were challenges of social distancing in the smaller units.  In addition, there was an increased request for food vouchers from Social Services, Sure Start and Housing Associations.  Many of the support agencies had to move to remote working which proved difficult for some to access information and support in the normal ways of working, which included the closure of the Council’s Community Hubs which was a referral method for individuals to access the food banks systems.

Together with the food banks, a number of access initiatives were established including  a digital referral system – mirroring the “voucher “details which captured all the information required by all food banks;  a cross departmental, dedicated council team working with food banks managers, acting as a liaison  between individual, agencies and transport /delivery with safeguarding measures etc.

The generous support of the Reuben Foundation provided 8 weeks of food supplies - @£32k food. Most has now been delivered but that which could not be stored locally is held at Chepstow Racecourse.

Video link of Chepstow Racecourse/Reuben Foundation and Monmouthshire County Council food banks support partnership

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NZQRnBN4eI&feature=youtu.be

Supporting Food Banks (Powys CC) 

The Powys County Council Regeneration Team, Grow in Powys helped the Powys foodbanks to manage the challenges and changes brought about by COVID19.  The team managed the Food Poverty Grant from the Welsh Government, distributed by the WLGA. The revenue grant of £11,602.08 was split between the seven food banks in Powys. The additional Capital funding grant of £13,477.00 was to support organisations access, store and distribute extra supplies of good quality food, by purchasing equipment such as freezers.

During lockdown the food banks had the funding to purchase smart phones or laptops to enable agile working. Due to the shortage of chest freezers, under the counter freezers were sourced in one case. The Llandrindod hub noted a 300% increase in demand. Cwmtawe Action to Combat Hardship could store substantial stocks of bread and baked goods in its new freezer. Through the engagement with communities in the areas of Ystradgynlais and Hay-on-Wye, additional outreach food banks were set up.

The Newtown Food Bank, funded by the Salvation Army said: “We have had to close our shop and along with it, the chance to continue raising our own funds through sales of our goods. We immediately turned to your funding to help us.”  

Using solar interest payments to support food banks (Carmarthenshire CC) 

Food banks in Carmarthenshire are being gifted £42,300 in food vouchers  will receive a share of the money in vouchers from income generated from rooftop solar panels on Carmarthenshire County Council buildings. Each food bank, which has seen a significant rise in demand since the coronavirus pandemic, will be given a list of suppliers they can obtain their goods from. The donation represents a value of approximately £70,000 for every mega-watt of solar installed, which is the highest single payment per megawatt of installed solar for any community benefit society, commercial solar farm or portfolio in the UK.

The council’s executive board member for resources and director of Egni Sir Gar Cyfyngedig an energy community benefit society established by the Council in 2015, Cllr David Jenkins, said: “Now more than ever people are having to use the foodbanks to put food on their table. It’s a challenging time for everyone as this coronavirus pandemic continues. By recycling our solar interest payment will help towards those that are struggling and cannot afford the essentials of life.”

Connect Carmarthenshire (Carmarthenshire CC) 

Residents and businesses across Carmarthenshire are showing remarkable community spirit by helping and supporting those in need in their communities during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. A number of voluntary groups have been set up to help wherever they can, offering both practical and emotional support. Connect Carmarthenshire has been created to bring communities and individuals together – a place to offer or request help to / from neighbours and the wider community. This platform is available to anyone who lives in Carmarthenshire.  Users to the website can sign up to  SirGâredig – Sharing Carmarthenshire’s Kindness, a regional campaign to encourage more people to be kind to each other. The Council’s website has lots of helpful information on the various support groups that have been set up and how  to volunteer. Town and community councils are also co-ordinating volunteers in their areas and working closely with local groups.

Local suppliers help with food packages (Carmarthenshire CC) 

Carmarthenshire County Council is working with local food suppliers to provide essential food packages to residents in Carmarthenshire who are shielding and have no other means of support. It means the parcels, which are delivered weekly, will contain some local produce as well as other basic food and household items. The council has taken over the supply and delivery of the food packages from Welsh Government and is working with Castell Howell and other local suppliers to put the packs together. The Council’s staff and  SirGâredig – Sharing Carmarthenshire’s Kindness  branded vans have been have been used for the delivery of the parcels.  Everyone receiving the package will get the same supplies, although the aim is to vary the contents as much as possible each week.

Council Leader Emlyn Dole said: “I am delighted that the council has been able to take over the management of the food packages for extremely vulnerable residents in Carmarthenshire who are shielding. “It means we are able to work with local suppliers and source local produce for the packages which is very important as it supports our local economy, as well as providing fresh, local food for our residents.”

Integrated Autism Services Covid-19 (All Wales) 

There are 7 Integrated Autism Services across Wales.  They are a partnership between all 22 LAs and 7 Health Boards – each mirrors the Health Board footprint.  The services have a dual role of undertaking adult autism diagnostic assessments and offering support, advice and guidance to autistic adults, parents and carers, and professionals.  Covid-19 has resulted in all services adapting their practice and developing innovative solutions, such as:

  • Virtual drop in information and advice sessions
  • Online post diagnostic courses for autistic adults
  • Virtual training sessions
  • Digital information gathering to inform diagnostic assessments
  • Holding sessions in a safe space e.g. in the garden
  • Utilizing ‘Attend Anywhere’, ‘Zoom’, and ‘MS Teams’ to offer advice, guidance, and support sessions
  • The development of online yoga sessions
  • The development of online peer support

Research has been built into many of the projects to examine the effectiveness, long term impact and the viability of developing an ongoing blended approach.  The initial feedback from many autistic people has been very positive as, especially in rural areas, it has reduced the anxiety of accessing venues, offices etc.  The outcome of the research will feed into the long-term development plans of both the IASs and autism services generally in Wales.

Together we are fighting Coronavirus Covid-19 (Flintshire CC) 

Flintshire County Council have been working in partnership with Flintshire Local Voluntary Council (FLVC)  to ensure vulnerable people receive appropriate support.  Prior to Covid-19, (FLVC)  already had access to a directory of validated community organisations i.e. those who were constituted, had received appropriate training and had policies in place, such as safeguarding. This Directory is updated as new community groups set up. FLVC employ two staff based with the Council’s Single Point of Access (SPoA) team signposting and supporting individuals to access the voluntary and community support available across Flintshire. Furloughed staff from organisations who work closely with the Council have been encouraged to volunteer via the Volunteering Wales website. Over 200 people have stepped forward to volunteer in Flintshire, 84 individuals chose to volunteer for the council and virtual training has been put in place. Together we are fighting Coronavirus COVID-19 

 

Vale Heros (Vale of Glamorgan C) 

Vale of Glamorgan Council has established a Crisis Support Team to provide information and assistance and works closely with Glamorgan Voluntary Service  and Cardiff & Vale Age Connects, directing people to organisations that can help. Vale Heros  is a searchable database that helps connect individuals in need of support with those offering it. People can register if they need assistance with grocery shopping or medicine collection, for example, as can individuals or groups able to help with such tasks. Currently, numerous people are volunteering across the Vale, with over 2000 coming forward since March when the Covid-19 crisis hit.

A new Vale Heros Crisis Fund has also been established to offer grants of up to £3,000 to community groups, the voluntary sector, town and community councils and eligible businesses.

Community Resilience Hubs (Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC) 

Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council quickly established seven Community Resilience Hubs. comprising of  ‘virtual’ multi-disciplinary and organisational teams from Council services and partners, led by Council Community Coordinator.

The Community Resilience Teams contact all the people who request assistance, and those on the NHS Shielded lists, to provide support with shopping, picking up prescriptions, dog walking, and befriending services, matching the needs of residents with local volunteers, community groups, partner organisations, or by providing staff support.

To date, over 2800 residents have been supported by the Community Resilience Centres and close to 11,000 residents on the NHS Shielded list contacted by ‘phone with an active offer of support. 

The council were overwhelmed by over 1100 applications for volunteers and have currently paused recruitment as they work to mobilise Community Resilience Volunteers in response to local need.

Community Connectors in Powys (Powys CC) 

Powys County Council, Powys Teaching Health Board and Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (PAVO), as key partners of Powys Regional Partnership Board ,  established a Community Sector Emergency Response Team (C-Sert) to coordinate and support emergency response to people in the community who may be affected by COVID 19 through formal and informal volunteers. The CSERT, with the assistance of thirteen Community Connectors based around the county, arrange practical support for vulnerable (shielding and non-shielding) residents from local volunteers through local support networks. In terms of services offered through the CSERT, is provided with shopping and medication collection as well as a befriending service to help tackle loneliness and social isolation. Powys has around 4,000 volunteers across the county at any given time. The CSERT have been very pro-active in increasing formal volunteer support during the pandemic

Pembrokeshire Community Hub (Pembrokeshire CC) 

The Pembrokeshire Community Hub is a one-stop shop for any support required during the current pandemic, from help with shopping to a friendly telephone call. It is a partnership between Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services (PAVS), Hywel Dda University Health Board and Delta Wellbeing. Residents who would like to volunteer are signposted to a web based interactive directory of community support organisations that are registered with PAVS, or they can volunteer directly through Volunteering Wales.  94 Community Support Groups have registered with PAVS, and over 600 volunteers have registered with Volunteering Wales.

Newport City Council 

Newport City Council (NCC) has put in place a robust set of practical support mechanisms to help those in the community who are most vulnerable. This has been helped significantly by the already implemented community hub approach supported by the Council’s spatial data team. The council has maintained its vital contact centre to continue service support and has put in place a free phone number for the hubs. Working with Volunteer Matters and GAVO, Newport has over 300 volunteers working in communities. NCC is enhancing foodbank parcels with extra essential items. The council is helping to provide baby bundles (milk, nappies, wet wipes etc.) that have been purchased for distribution to the most vulnerable as identified by health visitors as well as activity packs for young children and well-being packs for older residents. 

Joint COVID-19 Co-ordinators group (Isle of Anglesey CC) 

The Isle of Anglesey County Council have established a joint Covid-19 Co-ordinators group across Statutory and third sector organisations. The group, chaired by the Council’s Leader is part of the island’s response to the pandemic. It consists of the Council and the third sector led by Medrwn Mȏn and Menter Mȏn who are working to mobilise Covid-19 community support groups on the island. The co-ordinators group have developed a Covid-19 community guidance. The council has 860 registered volunteers operating within 36 area teams. Sixty of these volunteers are classed as specialist volunteers as they have a current DBS. Through community support, volunteer groups and ‘neges’ meals service around 675 individuals are being supported, with a further 325 individuals receiving assistance with prescription collection, food shopping and referrals to various support services.

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