One Northern Devon has today released a report that describes some of the work being carried out in communities around North Devon and Torridge in response to Covid-19.
The partnership organisation of public, voluntary, community and business sector organisations agreed to focus on understanding what additional support people need at this unprecedented time, how communities can be supported to provide help to local people and how the work of partner organisations, businesses and groups can be co-ordinated to avoid duplication and service gaps that could result in people not getting the help they need.
On 13th March the One Northern Devon team developed a ‘Framework for unleashing community capacity’ to support residents affected by Covid-19. This framework included a community workplan that One Communities could use and adapt to their own circumstances. One Ilfracombe began testing the workplan on 16th March. The immediate need identified was to help people who were vulnerable and self-isolating to get essentials such as shopping and prescriptions. It was also recognised that there was a need to combat the loneliness that could result from isolation by providing social contact through phone calls.
Two months on and the six ‘One Communities’ (One Ilfracombe, One Bideford, One Barnstaple, Torrington 100, Live Well in Braunton and One South Molton) have a volunteer workforce of more than 1000 volunteers carrying out these essential tasks. Volunteers have carried out more than 500 shopping deliveries, nearly 900 prescription deliveries and 285 social phone calls. This is in addition to the 140 miscellaneous acts of kindness including dog walking and letter posting.
Local volunteers can be connected to residents needing support through a cascade system. This allows staff working at a Northern Devon level such as hospital teams and South Western Ambulance Service to use a single point of contact and those at District Level can contact North Devon Council and Torridge District Council Support Lines. Alternatively, people can contact their One Community directly which is sometimes more straightforward for GPs, health and social care teams and home care providers who already work in their communities.
In response to requests from One Communities asking for advice around volunteer transport queries and prescription pick-ups One Northern Devon, working in partnership with North Devon and Torridge Voluntary Services, has developed a One Communities Volunteering Guidance Pack (https://onenortherndevon.co.uk/covid-19-volunteers/) to support communities through the complex world of DBS checks, risk assessments and insurance.
One Northern Devon’s Economy, Employment & Skills group have also been instrumental in linking with local businesses. The group put out a call to their local business networks on 4th May asking if any furloughed staff would like to volunteer within their communities. Within a week 24 people had filled out the online form. As well as driving and delivery volunteering half of those volunteering had other skills such as customer service, data entry and social media experience that they were willing to offer to their local One Community team.
In recognition that many businesses are in need of support themselves, local business partners highlighted the need for mental health support. One Northern Devon has created a section on their webpage dedicated to this https://onenortherndevon.co.uk/mental-well-being-support-for-businesses/ with links to national and local support information and services. The website also has a link to the Petroc webpages that highlight the mental health benefits of learning and the opportunity to develop skills or retrain during this time so that people are in the best position possible as the lockdown continues to ease. Many of the courses on offer are currently free and cover a wide range of industries from business to social care https://www.petroc.ac.uk/one-northern-devon.
Chair of One Northern Devon, Dr John Womersley said, “It has been a humbling experience to be part of communities coming closer together as everyone makes sure that those whose wellbeing has been affected, be it physical, mental or emotional know where to find the help they need; both from within their own community and from our larger organisations.”
If anyone is in need of support to collect shopping, prescriptions or phone calls – or would like to offer support – contact One Northern Devon’s System Support Co-ordinator Lindsay on 01271 337799 or email firstname.lastname@example.org