Posts in Category: All Wales

Supporting Homeless People during the pandemic (All Wales) 

Welsh Government’s £10million fund, enabled local authorities to engage with all those sleeping rough and ensure that they had access to safe and suitable accommodation to meet the pandemic restrictions. Within the first two weeks of lockdown, local authorities had accommodated, or re-accommodated, over 500 households who had either been sleeping rough or were in accommodation unsuitable for social distancing, this figure has risen to over 1000 households since the pandemic began.

 

Local authorities reconfigured teams and redeployed staff to ensure effective provision of services and also to find new ways of working with partners. The mechanism of a centralised coordination cell within each council brought together partners such as health, registered social landlords, police & probation, third sector organisations etc to collectively plan and deliver services.

 

These experiences have helped to shape and plan for current and future provision of homelessness and housing related support services.

Continuing to support homeless people during the coronavirus pandemic: local authority guidance | GOV.WALES

Commended Certificate for the School Procurement Award – WLGA and NPS Procurement of face coverings to Welsh school children 

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and the National Procurement Service (NPS) have received a “Commended” certificate for the 'School Procurement Award' from the Education Business Awards for their collaboration in providing school children with face coverings. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the NPS worked with Lyreco, the WLGA and RotoMedical, the medical and protective equipment division of the Rototherm Group, based in Margam, South Wales, to manufacture and distribute a 3 layer face covering to Wales’ schoolchildren via the NPS framework for personal protective equipment. The WLGA highlighted a need to provide face coverings, to Welsh schools to the NPS following the issuing of a Welsh Government grant to Welsh local authorities to purchase these items. There was also a desire to have the face covering manufactured in Wales. Subsequently, the NPS and WLGA worked with RotoMedical to understand how they could help service the Welsh public sector in the fight against the virus. Lyreco purchased the products from RotoMedical on behalf of NPS and distributed them to customers utilising their own nationwide logistics network. Lyreco service their South Wales customers from their own distribution centre in Bridgend and North Wales customers from just over the border in Warrington.

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.
  • Zoom “coffee mornings” with autistic adults in Monmouthshire.
  • 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.

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

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.

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The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) represents the interests of local government and promotes local democracy in Wales.

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