Posts in Category: Monmouthshire

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 

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. 

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

Monmouthshire’s Youth Council - Engage to Connect (E2C) (Monmouthshire CC) 

Engage to Change (E2C) is Monmouthshire’s Youth Council, responded to the Covid-19 situation quickly by scheduling on-line weekly meetings. The aim of these sessions is to ensure that the voice of young people in Monmouthshire’s needs continue to be heard and supported.   

Initially, E2C discussed the experiences, issues and emotions that they and their peers were having in the early stages of lockdown and invited Dr Sarah Brown (Clinical Psychologist, Gwent Community Psychology, Aneurin Bevan Health Board) on how young people could develop resilience. As result, young people helped generate content for the Youth Service’s daily stories on Facebook and Instagram, including on the service’s ‘Wellbeing Wednesdays’.  Young people were involved in trialling social media platforms that were used by the Youth Services’ digital work offer for on-line youth and lunchtime clubs and drop-in sessions. 

E2C has maintained contact with the South East Wales Regional Forum and currently progressing the Ucan project as part of the Welsh Government’s Additional learning Needs Transformation Fund. Working regionally has enabled E2C share experiences with young people from other geographical areas, developing relationships and support networks, as well as confidence and self-esteem.

Recently E2C have started to host weekly Q&A sessions with decision-makers to discuss issues identified by young people, such as mental health, transport, education and Monmouthshire’s priorities identified in the British Council Make your Mark consultation.

Our Monmouthshire (Monmouthshire CC) 

Monmouthshire County Council’s Community Support Team ‘assess the need’ and in partnership with volunteers offer a range of support services, such as: collection and delivery of shopping and medicines, provision of food parcels and ready meals to those in need; befriending services etc.

A digital platform https://ourmonmouthshire.org/ has been developed to complement existing activity which will include time banking functionality. There are 1000+ volunteers active in the county. Area Development Teams have built a picture of the volunteer requirements for each of the 60+ local community action groups being supported by the council and key partners to match need and demand of volunteers.

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