Supporting older people in communities across west Cheshire

24 April 2020

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Community Response Fund has helped Snow Angels cope with the increasing pressure on its services from coronavirus (COVID-19).

After the Council originally set up the Fund with a pot of £250,000, it was matched by a donation from the Westminster Foundation, meaning a total of £500,000 is now available to community initiatives. 

Around 40 community initiatives have already been given grants totalling more than £170,000, with more applications currently being processed. 

Snow Angels helps older people continue to live independently and keep well, working with a range of different organisations across west Cheshire.  

Like many other organisations, the way Snow Angels operates has changed during the COVID-19 crisis, with its workload effectively doubling in recent weeks. 

By working with the Virtual Community Hub recently set up by the Council, people calling the helpline have been referred to Snow Angels for support with things like dog walking, befriending calls, shopping and prescriptions.

Cathy Boyd, Director of Snow Angels, said: “We originally started to support older people during the winter with cold weather so our service was designed to be managed remotely.  

“Since then, we have provided services throughout the year and the original principles remain of providing support to enable people to continue to live independently in their own homes and reduce social isolation.

“The difference now is that we’re not able to do any face-to-face delivery and we’ve had to scale up everything we do in a really short space of time. 

“All our partners have been brilliant and the funding from the Council has helped us put some of these changes in place. 

“We have had a tremendous response from the local community wanting to help and have volunteers from across the area.  

“We’ve been able to increase our staffing hours and the capacity we have in our services to cope with the demand, including additional telephone lines, increased server capacity for our case management system, and other investment in our back-office systems. 

“The extra funding means we’ve been able to keep in touch with those people who need our support.”

Snow Angels’ offer to walk people’s dogs has been a big help for some residents as they know their pets are keeping active and being looked after. 

One elderly resident said: “The man from Snow Angels has been an absolute star. He has walked Beau every day since last Tuesday.

“I hadn’t expected him to come every day, but he tells me when he will be available the following day and is always very pleasant, upbeat and punctual.

“Beau now looks out for and recognises his car. He adores him.”

Council staff, along with staff from other organisations, have also been supporting Snow Angels in its response to COVID-19.

A member of Council staff said: “I’ve been contacting shielding residents on behalf of Snow Angels and everyone has been really thankful and pleased that somebody has been in touch with them.

“A lot of people are worried and they want life to go back to normal, but the calls are making a big difference to them.

“It gives me a real boost helping Snow Angels and contacting these vulnerable people.”

Community initiatives old and new can apply for grants through the Community Response Fund, with more than £300,000 still available.

Who can apply
  • Any group based in west Cheshire
  • Voluntary organisations, community groups, small charities or other not-for-profit-organisations
Applications for the Community Response Fund will be considered from groups that show they are providing a service or initiative that benefits others in their community in response to this emergency. The Council is unlikely to support individuals, businesses and sporting organisations and all applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Any grants over £500 will be considered, but it is expected most grants will be around £2,000. To access an application form, community initiatives will need to email: chesterlocality@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk. They will then be able to complete the application form and return it to the same email address. If groups do not have their own bank account, they should contact the Locality team for support.

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