SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES ACROSS COUNTY DURHAM THROUGHOUT COVID-19

14th Oct 2020

From the groups we have worked with throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some great examples of projects that have brought communities together and shown how important the voluntary and community sector has been during this time.

Barnard Castle Area Covid-19 Mutual Aid Community Support (ran from the TCR Hub)

Our Community Development Team have supported this project by making the aware of, and supporting them to apply for, a £350.00 County Durham Community Foundation and DCA COVID-19 Response Volunteering Micro-Grant to go towards the cost of buying hoodies for volunteers to make them easily recognisable when delivering care packages. It also contributed to fuel for volunteers, packaging and containers for the hot meals and personal protective equipment.

“We began our response to the Covid -19 pandemic at the end of March by working out that there would be many people across the dale who would not be able to access good quality food provision. We realised that this would be a mix of families and single people and that we could use our building and volunteers to provide a new service to solve this issue.

We set up a Go Fund Me page for financial donations to purchase food from local suppliers. We also developed a link to the local Morrisons and later, to the Fareshare Scheme linking us to three local Tesco stores. We also arranged for food to be donated at our front door from local individuals and groups.

The project really took off and we went from delivering to 8 families to just under 100 recipients within the first month. The numbers continued to rise until we reached a peak of 145 recipients across the whole of Teesdale. At the same time as gaining a long list of recipients we also gained a list of valuable volunteers who were able to help us collect food, pack the bags and boxes and then distribute across the area.

The project has resulted in us developing a good relationship with many new volunteers, building stronger links with referral partners and other organisations working in the dale, it has helped us to attract further funding to sustain our charity and of course, provided a much needed service to those most vulnerable at such a difficult time.

We still deliver over 80 packages a week and will continue to help those affected by Covid.

Our volunteers really appreciated the hooded jumpers provided by the County Durham Community Foundation and DCA COVID-19 Response Volunteering Micro-Grant Programme funding as it gave them a sense of identity in the community and meant that the package recipients could recognise them when they delivered their care package.”

Rachel Tweddle, CEO, TCR Hub

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St Paul’s Centre, Spennymoor

DCA have worked with the committee at St Paul’s Centre and offered support and guidance to them throughout the pandemic to help them reopen the hall and follow appropriate guidance to ensure people are kept safe and COVID- secure measures are adhered to.

One of their projects was to run a telephone befriending service. They initially approached Spennymoor AAP by to contribute from their COVID-19 funding towards a scheme to pay for telephone costs for nine volunteers to provide telephone befriending service.

Following discussions with mobile providers an approach was made to DCC Corporate Mobiles Team and nine decommissioned telephone handsets were secured at a preferential rate from Durham County Council.

The handsets have been loaned to 9 volunteers who contacted 136 users from the St Pauls Centre Wellbeing and Employability user groups during the COVID-19 lockdown on a regular basis.  

The volunteers contact the clients from their homes and support a mix of people of all ages, some live alone, some are vulnerable, and some have mental health problems. This project is supporting the client’s mental health and emotional wellbeing during the current lockdown, and beyond.

Maureen Aspey, Director from the St Pauls Centre, stated that

“This has been a great example of partnership working between the charity organisation St Pauls Centre, our volunteers, Spennymoor AAP and Durham County Council. This ongoing support by our volunteers is proving to be of great benefit to our Wellbeing groups. We are noticing that these calls are increasing in length week by week and is proving to be a great lifeline to many. Many thanks to our local AAP for their support, and in making this venture happen.’’       

The St Pauls Centre re-opened on July 13th and since then they have been holding support groups within the centre – bringing small groups together for coffee and chat, or to watch a film. They are still supporting those who are afraid to come out or who are shielding.

Visit their Facebook page

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