The Community Response and Covid-19
Geraldine Lawless, Interim Chair of the Community and Voluntary Sector Panel and CVSP rep on Community Planning Strategic Partnership highlights the resilience being shown by communities amidst the many challenges faced and how organisations and groups adapted to ensure needs continued to be met throughout the crisis.
Over the last few months there have been many changes in all our lives because of coronavirus. One of the biggest changes for many people was lockdown. Many people were shielding and unable to access food as they normally would. Community groups played a vital role during the lockdown, delivering food and medicines, and checking up on elderly and vulnerable people. This support has been a lifeline for many people in the borough and the kindness and compassion shown has had a huge impact. Many individuals and local businesses also donated to the effort.
To better understand the level of support provided by sector, the community and voluntary sector panel undertook a Food Assistance survey across the borough in June to learn about the sector’s response to the Covid-19 crisis and to inform the work of the panel over the next 12 months.
The results of the survey showed communities acted quickly and creatively to support each other with almost half commencing their food assistance in March. Among the 47 organisations who responded to the survey were residents associations, sport clubs, women’s organisations, foodbanks, youth clubs, charities, faith groups, bands and charities. The actions of these organisations were swift, impactful and collaborative, and most survey respondents did not provide food assistance before the crisis. Shaped by local knowledge and experience groups were able to identify needs and really got to the heart of what was needed by people who needed support during this time.
During the lockdown period, between them, the organisations indicated that they were providing weekly food parcels to approximately 4400 homes, with 11800 people benefiting each week. The most common criteria for food support were shielding, followed by low income or a change to income.
Reflecting on everything that has been done, I feel extremely proud of what the local community has achieved and to have been a part of the response. Groups have worked so hard and it’s brought the community together.
The Community and Voluntary Sector has worked in partnership with each other, local businesses, schools, mental health services, social care, statutory agencies like the council, NI Housing Executive, the local health trust and PSNI and government departments. The crisis has broken down barriers that were there before and more collaboration is needed if we are to support communities through what will come next. To view the results of the panel survey please click here: https://www.armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Food-Initiatives-Covid-19-Response-Survey-Summary-Document.pdf
Going forward the panel will continue to assist communities and each other and work in partnership with statutory partners to ensure those in need will be supported.
Call for new members
The panel is currently recruiting for new members and is calling on individuals who are active within the community, voluntary and social enterprise sectors to join the ABC Community and Voluntary Sector Panel. The call will remain open until Monday 31st August 2020 and is by expression of interest. Applications can be completed online by following the link below or by contacting a member of the community planning team for a word version of the form. https://armaghbanbridgecraigavon.citizenspace.com/community-planning/2020-be-part-of-abc-community-voluntary-sector/
The panel formalises the sector’s role within the community planning partnership. Over the last two years panel members have taken part in the development of six thematic action plans, represented at the Community Planning Strategic Partnership, involved in the design of the Community Engagement Strategy and have completed their own development programme. The development programme included a good practice study visit to Monaghan and hosted two very successful events that have brought the whole sector together – Songs, Sheds and Social Prescribing: Ways to Wellbeing and Trained, Skilled and Working Employability Event. Most recently, to better understand the level of support provided by sector, the panel undertook a Food Initiatives Survey across the borough in June to learn about the sector’s response to the Covid-19 crisis and to inform the work of the panel over the next 12 months.
Over the next year Panel members have the opportunity to participate in a Shared Leadership programme through the Carnegie UK Trust Embedding Wellbeing in Northern Ireland.
More information of the work of the panel can be found on the Community Planning Section on the Council website by following this link https://www.armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk/resident/delivering-our-community-plan/#communityandvoluntarysector<< Back to blogs