THE Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, today thanked the legion of community volunteers across Wales, who are working hard to help keep you and your loved ones safe and cared for in these very difficult times.
Jane Hutt said:
“It has been heart-warming to hear about the many ways that communities have come together right across Wales, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, to protect and support the most vulnerable amongst us.
“The Stay Home rules are difficult for everyone, but they are in place to slow the spread of the virus and to keep us all safe, protect the NHS and save lives.
“We continue to face a very serious situation. Cases in Wales are very high and our NHS is under real pressure, but community groups and charities are still looking after people who are isolating, or who need support.
“I want to say thank you to all the community volunteers who are working so hard, and to say that support is available in your local area if you need it. People can help you by delivering food and prescriptions, or through regular phone calls for a chat.
“If you would like to help in your local neighbourhood, or need support, contact your local county voluntary council – they can put you in touch with people working in your community.
“Here are some examples of the support which is available, right now, in your area. My message to you is: keep helping and supporting your communities while staying home. Knowing that there are people who care makes a huge difference to us all.”
Nanny Biscuit is a community organisation in Flintshire which has set up clever ways to provide food and emotional support to the most vulnerable in the community, from pen pals and Christmas card deliveries to hot food deliveries to the homeless.
Cowbridge Male Voice choir in the Vale of Glamorgan consists of over 80 members. Many members are older people who have lost family members, and miss having a close support network. They have held Zoom choir practices, virtual bake-offs, a cocktail night, a poetry competition, and a social jamboree at Christmas, supporting friends and neighbours who would otherwise have been alone.
Flintshire Local Voluntary Council is a social prescribing service, handling referrals from social workers, GPs and district nurses, and supporting individuals who self-refer for any health, social care or wellbeing support need.
They then signpost and support the individual to access appropriate voluntary and community support services.
Vineyard Church has been involved in compassionate and charitable projects in Cardiff for around 12 years. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Church expanded its services to provide care packages and food supplies to people in need.
Partneriaeth Ogwen is a social enterprise based in Bethesda, which has paused their re-generation projects supporting the environment, community and local economy to enable them to focus on direct support for the local community.
Services include a ‘Community Friends’ hot meal delivery and doorstep chat service; an online platform, where local businesses can sell locally grown produce, which has kept £35,000 in the local economy, and supported local businesses to remain in business at a very difficult time, and a food bank and food share service.
Ruth Marks, CEO of Wales Council for Voluntary Action, said:
“The New Year brings new hope, as the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines picks up pace. However the first weeks of 2021 have also seen the highest number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Therefore, it has never been more important for us all to stay home and limit social contact wherever possible.
“Throughout the pandemic, communities, volunteers and charities have been supporting people to isolate safely and remain in contact with others. From food and medicine deliveries to virtual social activity, there are so many brilliant examples of support available.
“These efforts are making a huge difference to people’s lives and taking pressure off the NHS through this difficult period, which is a huge credit to the community spirit here in Wales.”