Spotlight on the community sector - 21 December 2020

21 December 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the community sector has arguably been in the spotlight more than ever before, delivering valuable services for people needing support across Cheshire West and Chester. 

Cheshire West and Chester Council is working closely with Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA) to put together a fortnightly round up, helping showcase all the fantastic work going on across the sector. 

Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “The community sector has shown a great deal of flexibility during the pandemic to continue delivering services to those who depend on them.

“Many charities and community groups had to adapt quickly at the start of the pandemic, delivering their services in ways they’ve never done before.

“The sector has played such an invaluable role in the community response alongside the Council and other partners. Many lasting relationships have been formed between partners that will benefit our borough for years to come.

“I’d like to thank all charities, community groups and the wider community sector for all their work during the pandemic.”

Age UK Cheshire has been working through an advent calendar each day on social media in the lead up to Christmas, sharing videos of local schools singing carols and reading poems.

The charity is also delivering hampers of festive treats and activities to older people it has supported during the pandemic, reassuring them they aren’t forgotten at Christmas time.

Age UK was recently given funding from the Steve Morgan Foundation and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to deliver a digital inclusion project for older people until March 2023. Two people have been recruited to support the project and a magazine will be produced to help older people currently struggling to access technology. Snow Angels has been providing valuable services to older people throughout the pandemic, adapting to the circumstances to carry out telephone befriending, support with shopping and dog walking.

The social enterprise is currently looking for volunteers in the Ellesmere Port area. The time commitment is whatever volunteers are able to give up. Friends of the Countess of Chester Country Park has held many outdoor sessions aimed at those who have been anxious to go out because of COVID-19 and become socially isolated. 

The Friends of the Countess was also chosen by The Friendly Bench CIC to have one of its community hubs installed at the Country Park in October. These are designed to help combat social isolation by allowing people to meet one another, albeit in a socially distanced and safe manner for now. 

The Welcome Network is playing a leading role coordinating food support across Cheshire West and Chester over the festive period. 
Food support has been mapped out on the Welcome Network website so residents can easily find out the services they can access in their area.  ICUsteps is a support group for anyone who has experienced critical illness in an intensive care unit, offering advice for former patients, their families and those close to them. The group held its first drop-in meeting back in December 2016 and became a registered charity in March 2019.

Everything had to change because of the pandemic as the majority of ICUsteps members were told to shield and didn’t want to stop meeting, with sessions moving online. In fact, it has allowed the group to expand its services.

ICUsteps offers weekly drop-in meetings for patients along with weekly drop-in meetings specifically for relatives and friends because they often have different concerns. 

A weekly exercise group is now taking place twice a week and this was a real benefit during lockdown, especially for those who were shielding and advised not to go out at all.

ICUsteps has provided invaluable support for many people, with the youngest client being 19 and the oldest being nearly 80. 

Have you got a story to share about the brilliant work you’re doing in the community? Please email: enquiries@chesterva.org.uk. You can also post your stories on the Council’s Inspire Cheshire West website.

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