COVID-19 - Rural Communities Pulling Together (Week 5)

We asked for examples of our rural communities pulling together and have been inundated with responses so far! We featured 10 each week, and this week are pleased to feature 10 more this week!

We have been heartened to read stories from our rural communities, showing that despite the incredible situation we are living in, communities are coming together in amazing ways, to support each other.  Many of these initiatives were started before the Government introduced the NHS Volunteer Scheme, as communities recognised a need in their local communities.

10 Rural Communities helping each other

Good News and Service Offer Feature

ConnecTED Together.  Self-distancing but still ConnecTED

  • Funded by the National Lottery Community Fund’s Ageing Better Programme, the TED in East Lindsey Programme was established in 2015 to bring together diverse people in the district aged 50 and over.  Our services include Friendship Groups, a number of innovative activities delivered by partners, and the promotion of mindful businesses through our Age Friendly Business Award. 
  • At TED in East Lindsey we realise COVID 19 and the requirements to self-distance can impact greatly on our rural and coastal communities.  In meeting these challenges the team, its partners and stakeholders have continued to work together, adapting services to meet the needs of their local communities and prevent social isolation and loneliness.
  • We have seen aspects of ConnecTED, our offer to communities during this time, extend beyond the East Lindsey District to the whole of Lincolnshire.  ConnecTED currently offers:
  • A phone befriending service (extended to the county of Lincolnshire)
  • Signposting to other agencies
  • Emailed fortnightly packs featuring news, reviews, quizzes, short stories, and recipes
  • A dedicated YouTube channel with video features on themes such as exercise, healthy eating and working with technology
  • ‘How to’ guides posted on the TED in East Lindsey website (including information on digital devices)
  • Campaigns that include the KnitTED Together campaign where people can share pictures of creative knitting and experiences via social media
  • Caroline Killeavy, CEO of YMCA Lincolnshire has said “our ConnecTED befriending service provides personal support to those people who may not be able to see their friends and family, or even pop to the shop, by bringing people together for a friendly chat … this regular personal contact can make all the difference”. 
  • By the end of April TED in East Lindsey and their delivery partners had provided support to 1279 people.  As well as people aged 50 and over contacting the team directly, TED also accepts referrals and queries from relatives, friends and agencies.  As Anne* put it “I’m happy with the calls … I do like to yap with a captive audience!”
  • But TED in East Lindsey not only about meeting the needs of our communities, it’s also about embracing their strengths and community spirit.  One partner reported it was “good to see some of the group are now phoning me and not waiting for my weekly call…they feel relaxed enough to do this and don’t have to phone me for anything, but just to have a chat”
  • One project lead said “one of our members said she had phoned others or simply spoken across the garden to some of them about clapping for the NHS and keyworkers. She told me everyone had come outside to clap and this gave a real sense of togetherness and everyone was smiling”. 
  • TED in East Lindsey knows that while we may be at distance, we still can keep ConnecTED. 
  • If you are interested in what TED in East Lindsey has to offer please visit our website https://tedineastlindsey.co.uk/latest-delivery/ alternatively you can email the team at  ted@lincsymca.co.uk or call 01529 301966.

*Not her real name

Freshwater Parish Council, Isle of Wight

West Wight Coronavirus Support Hub - partnership of organisations helping people self-isolating to get shopping, prescriptions and talk to someone if they are scared and lonely. See https://westwight.org.uk/

Staunton on Wye Group Parish Council, Herefordshire County Council

The Parish Council and other volunteers have formed a close liaison with the local farm shop. Through that liaison essential foods are being delivered to the door for the elderly and infirm.

Trotton with Chithurst Parish Council, Chichester

Basic food ordering through parish website and (closed) local pub; free meals for sick and essential workers via local wedding venue kitchen; food and garden produce ordering service via parish website and local garden centre; identified vulnerable residents and paired them up with volunteers to do shopping, prescriptions, and other help; recruited volunteers via parish website.

Withyham Parish Council, Wealden

We cover 4 settlements, 3 of these have resident led neighbour-schemes that have been well advertised, in one the church is offering practical help. WPC has written to every household with contacts for their local volunteer groups, details of how to register if they're clinically vulnerable and contact details of the District Shield hub as we are aware that a lot is on social media but not everyone has access. In one of the villages there is a shop and we have ensured they can offer deliveries. We also have a community bus service which has agreed to do shopping trips for a nominal fee.

Eccleshall Parish Council, Staffordshire

A member of the local community, supported by a grant from the Parish Council, amongst others, has created 'Eccleshall Cares', which is a community organisation supported by a large team of volunteers, who are working to provide services to help the vulnerable members of the Parish who are self isolating. There is a helpline for residents to register for help. Support is offered in a number of ways, including collecting prescriptions, fetching shopping and just having someone to chat to on the phone. Residents suffering financial difficulties are also able to apply for a food bank pack of essential items. They have a website at https://www.eccleshallcares.co.uk/

Newton and Noss Parish Council, South Hams

Coordinators have been allocated small numbers of residents based on local postcodes to oversee, they then call on a list of volunteers who can assist residents with shopping, medicine deliveries, hospital visits , computer assistance with orders of food etc.

Clare Baptist Church, West Suffolk

Community response led by Town Council in partnership with this church and a local community support group. Setting up volunteer helpers with co-ordinators across the town helping with shopping, collecting medication and offering telephone support to the vulnerable, isolated and lonely.

Winkleigh Parish Council, Devon

Covid Support Service, a phone number and email address where people can ask for shopping to be done medication collected etc.

Chalgrove Parish Council, South Oxfordshire

Chalgrove PC, many week ago, leafleted all 1150 homes asking those in need to contact me directly. Once their need had been assessed they were allocated a volunteer from our database of approx. 100 residents who were sought via our Facebook page to assist those in need. We currently help with shopping, food parcels, prescriptions, dog walking, phone buddies, accurate advice and guidance, and others.

What further support do they need?

The Rural Services Network also asked each of these 10 communities what further support they need from national initiatives or locally.

We are feeding these points into Defra each week and key issues will be raised at the weekly Rural Stakeholder Impact Forum that we attend virtually with Defra and rural organisations.

The following points were raised:

  • Financial support and recognition of community coming together, and utilising what is already there. Financial support for existing organisations that are adapting to take on this new challenge.
  • The West Wight is isolated being on a peninsular, and there are concerns that current infrastructure that has stopped or reduced due to the lockdown will not be reinstated at previous levels.  There are also worries about the impact on the rural economy that is dependent on tourism.
  • Clearly viral testing for those working in the local home for the elderly and protection for those working in the local hospital.
  • Provide testing to relieve lockdown (especially of local school)
  • Supermarket slots to be more available to not just clinically vulnerable but also over 70s and people without transport, even if that means that they are not available to everyone else who could otherwise go shopping.
  • I have voiced concerns to our District about the Shield Hub's reliance on local volunteers and possible long term resilience of that network if lockdown continues for some time or if it is partially lifted and some volunteers return to work/can't help as much as before. Also a lot of our volunteers are using the local shops which some vulnerable people can’t afford, particularly if they need quite a lot of shopping.
  • The actions and support of local residents for these scheme has been overwhelming and a fantastic example of community spirit within the Parish in such a difficult time for many.
  • Reduction in duplication of advice from Government , District and County .  Better enforcement of the travel restrictions in order that second home owners do not “self isolate” in the Parish but pay lip service only to the process.
  • Large retailers too slow to improve their online services for ordering essential items.   Bus service running with no passengers, could have been converted to a local delivery service from our local city for example for central collection by residents.
  • Access to cash - without banks, internet or telephone banking.  Shopping where supermarkets aren't easily accessible.
  • PPE for health workers, clarity on masks for my volunteers, Deregulation of food banks so we can easily set one up locally. Our food banks are a bus ride away and if you have to take your children too, it negates the benefits, testing for the staff who work in care homes
  • Reduced services means that people are unsupported. I have made referrals to Social Services to no avail and tried to get help for people on benefits.

SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.