A community support scheme in Staffordshire is to be expanded after the huge success of its first year.
Launched in March 2020, Staffordshire County Council’s Supportive Communities Programme has attracted hundreds of new volunteers and worked with existing charities and groups to help thousands of adults in need of support.
Johnny McMahon, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Health, Care and Wellbeing, said:
This project began at more or less the same time as the first Covid lockdown began and demonstrated its value immediately; those in need received food deliveries, had medical prescriptions collected and found a friendly voice at the end of the phone.
At the same time, we were able to help a lot of other people by simply listening to their problems and directing them to local help in their community, rather than needing the county council to intervene.
None of this would be possible without individual people giving up their time, or the long-established local volunteer groups, which do so much work in their neighbourhoods and I thank everyone who helps in one way or another.”
In its first 12 months as part of the response to the pandemic, and working closely with voluntary sector partner Support Staffordshire, the Supportive Communities programme:
attracted nearly 2,000 volunteers, of which around 1,500 were signposted to local volunteering opportunities;
made 5,034 weekly food deliveries;
collected 2,864 prescriptions;
made 1,594 befriending phone calls;
delivered food parcel deliveries to around 2,500 vulnerable adults;
supported 149 mutual aid groups to make a difference in their communities.
The report to be heard by Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet next week acknowledges that while the last 12 months has seen an increase in people volunteering their time, some established charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises have been adversely affected by the pandemic.
Johnny McMahon said:
One of this council’s key aims is that Staffordshire residents live healthier lives and retain their independence for as long as possible.
By working with and supporting those groups which can make a difference at a local level in their communities, we can help people stay in their own homes for longer.”
In the autumn, Staffordshire County Council issued grants of up to £2,500 to 94 local community groups to support their work.
In 2021/22 the council plans to broaden its support by dealing more closely with communities, voluntary sector groups and, particularly, parish councils to help develop support for adults with learning disabilities, as well as older people.
And it will work with GPs, pharmacies, the fire service and police who come into regular contact with people to let them know about the range of help and services available.
While the county council continues to invest in offering more of its services, including information, advice and guidance, through its website and social media platforms, this community programme is also a valuable way of supporting adults who are less confident using new technology.