COUNCILLORS have been raising their concerns over the impact Covid-19 has had on community centres.

Bridgend County Borough Council’s scrutiny committee raised a number of questions when a progress report on the delivery of wellbeing, leisure and cultural services was delivered on Wednesday, February 2.

The report states the pandemic has increased the volume of support that is needed by centres due to frequently changing restrictions and increasingly complex operating requirements.

Cllr Amanda Williams, who was chairing the meeting, raised the scrutiny committee’s concerns over this, noting community centres are a “vital place for people to go to if they are feeling isolated”.

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Group manager for prevention and wellbeing, Andrew Thomas, conceded “it has not been easy for a number of centres”.

He said the situation is a “mixed picture” with some centres having “thrived during the pandemic” and others having faced difficult challenges.

Mr Thomas added that the council is also looking at equipping community centres digitally to offer the chance for those who cannot “attend [physically]” to access services.

Cllr Jane Gebbie, who is also the chair of trustees for Talbot Community Centre outlined some of the difficulties faced by centres, saying a major challenge for her centre were the “changes” to restrictions.

She said: “We didn’t know what service provisions we could open.”

She added that at the height of the pandemic, the centre was providing “in excess of 200 meals per day” for elderly and more vulnerable members of the community.

However, she added that the assistance of the Bridgend Association of Voluntary Support (BAVO) has been invaluable in keeping the community centre afloat, saying funding and support helped them to maintain their “viability”.

Council leader Huw David said: “I would like to echo that the experiences differ throughout the county borough.”

He added that some centres have “seen some increase in activity because people are really keen to get back to face-to-face activity” and that “community pantries have been very successful throughout the borough”.

Cllr David noted he would “strongly urge” community centres that are struggling to get in touch with the council and BAVO.

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