The report provides an update on the Stronger Communities Programme contribution to the COVID19 Social Isolation and Approach to Community Efforts workstream, including an overview of progress made in the Scarborough & Whitby Constituency area.
County Councillor David Chance introduced the report confirming that within four days of the announcement of the first lockdown, the Stronger Communities team had managed to set up the Community Support Organisations that had gone on to serve the county so well. This included setting up liaison with all the contributing partners, and smaller voluntary groups and arranging the necessary financing of the CSOs. He expressed his personal thanks to the team for all their work.
On behalf of the Committee the Chair also expressed thanks for their achievements throughout the pandemic and for going above and beyond for local residents.
Karen Atkinson provided a brief overview of the report, highlighting a number of local points of interest e.g.:
· Scarborough South CSO – a partnership between Scarborough Age UK, Scarborough, Whitby & Ryedale Mind and YMCA provided a robust response to all issues arising in Scarborough and the surrounding area;
· They were quick to recruit new volunteers and their awareness of emerging concerns such as fuel poverty enabled the provision of a timely response;
· The CSO built on the existing network of formal and informal partnerships for the effective utilisation of resources;
· They also worked closely with other local organisations and together were able to secure additional grants;
· A number of new projects were delivered alongside core support e.g. a cooked meal service, counselling over zoom etc;
· The Whitby area was served by two CSOs – CAFCA supported Whitby town, and the more rural villages and coastal areas were supported by Revival North Yorkshire;
· Contact with local businesses gave them access to furloughed staff;
· Both CSOs provided a core offer of community support including shopping, prescription delivering and befriending;
· A community magazine called ‘In Touch’ was introduced in the Whitby area;
· Both Whitby CSOs were key members of the Food Alliance, alleviating issues around food poverty;
Finally, Karen Atkinson confirmed that work was underway by all the CSOs to identify how and when to deliver transition activity, and summarised a range of activities to be undertaken in the coming six months.
Members thanked officers for the update and question what might happen after the CSOs were closed down in September 2021, to support financial hardship and mental health, noting that unemployment figures for the area were high (6.5%).
It was confirmed that the Team would continue to react to what was needed in their communities and that some additional funding had been sought by MIND, CAB and Age UK to continue to provide such support.
Marie-Ann Jackson Head of the Stronger Communities Programme, confirmed some additional funding would also be provided by MHCLG to continue to support anyone still self-isolating post 1st April when shielding would be lifted. It was also expected there would be a third round of DEFRA Grant provided in due course for some much more targeted and nuanced support going forward.
It was confirmed that the number of volunteers had fluctuated throughout the pandemic and that the three CSOs to the constituency area are currently in a reasonable position. It was noted that the transitional period would likely attract different/new volunteers.
The Chair thanked all members for their commitment and input to supporting and helping residents throughout the pandemic.
Resolved – That the update report be noted.