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’.
At the start of the lockdown, Neath Port Talbot council created NPT Buy Local, a simple online directory on NPT.gov.uk showing which local businesses were providing home deliveries and support.
This was built to test the hypothesis that it would help residents during Covid-19 by signposting them to local businesses, provide exposure for local businesses with a digital listing on our website and help support and grow the local economy.
It has had a positive impact, with 6,000 page views since its launch. Many residents shopped for the first time with their local greengrocer, butcher or farm store as they were unable to shop online with the major supermarkets who could not cope with demand and for the first time many local businesses who were digitally excluded had the opportunity to reach new customers online.
Further iterations have been delivered, improving the layout of the directory, creating categories to make it easier for residents to locate businesses and setting up a database to store and manage business listings.
The Council now intends to build on the work already delivered during Covid-19 to bring the council, its businesses and residents closer together, with the vision of creating a platform for a virtual high street to complement (not compete with) the traditional high street.
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:
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.
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.
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.”
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