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.
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.
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.
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.
Pembrokeshire County Council’s approach to managing the destination to ensure visitors, staff and communities were kept safe over the summer involved significant partnership working.
At a regional level, the council worked with Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion County Councils, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority (PCNPA) and Hywel Dda University Health Board to advise Welsh Government on the approach to safely reopening the tourism economy. On a Pembrokeshire footprint, the tourism infrastructure task and finish group, comprising Pembrokeshire County Council, PCNPA, Pembrokeshire Tourism and PLANED, along with other partners such as the National Trust and Dyfed Powys Police, have worked together to coordinate the approach to reopening the visitor infrastructure and the risk planning and communication strategies.
The authority established an Incident Management Centre (IMC), which operated seven days a week, morning to night, throughout the summer holiday period and included multiagency meetings involving the Police, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Fire and Rescue, Ambulance and PCNPA. A visitor welcome team, alongside other staff from a range of council departments and partner agencies, fed information on the ground through to the IMC for speedy resolution. Issues being managed included social distancing, litter, anti-social behaviour, wild camping, parking infringements etc.
Economic recovery, including the safe reopening of the city centre, is critical for Newport City Council and an economic recovery plan has been adopted by the council’s cabinet.
A survey of residents and businesses was undertaken to understand people’s concerns and priorities and a Task and Finish Group was set up to focus on how to embark on economic recovery in a safe and informed way. This group includes representation from the Newport Now BID, Gwent Police, Registered Social Landlords, Business Representatives (including the Chamber of Commerce) and third sector groups such as the Newport Access Group, Guide Dogs Cymru and Newport People First. The focus of the group has been on communication and information, supporting Newport businesses, place making and public safety.
Llancaiach Fawr Manor is a tourist attraction located in Nelson, Caerphilly which portrays life in 1645 through live interpretation to approximately 60,000 visitors and school children each year. There are also conference rooms, an education centre, a café, restaurant and gift shop.
During the lockdown period, the majority of staff volunteered to be redeployed to the buddy scheme, to pick up prescriptions and shopping for the vulnerable residents of the county borough who were shielding. Others joined the Track and Trace Programme Team.
The education centre has been temporarily repurposed as a distribution hub. Donations are collected by staff and parcels created for delivery to food banks.
The bar and restaurant have been utilised for the provision of a childcare hub run in partnership with the Caerphilly County Borough Council Youth Service, School and Music service, Arts Development Team and Healthy Schools Service to ease childcare issues during the summer holidays for Blue Light Workers.
Preparations for the ‘new normal’ have included delivering workshops online and providing an outreach service to schools. The café has re-opened and the formal gardens and patio area furnished with outdoor seating. Take away meals and Sunday lunches have gone from strength to strength.
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.
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.
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’.
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