Community and voluntary groups that are working to help vulnerable people in their neighbourhood during the coronavirus crisis can now benefit from extra financial support from councillors and guidance to help with their vital work.
West Suffolk Council already works with many voluntary community sector groups, many of which are working to help the most vulnerable at this time, while new groups are also being formed.
Now it is making additional support available to them by increasing councillors’ locality budgets and adapting the scheme so it can offer swifter support to many of the new groups that are currently being set up.
John Griffiths, the leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “West Suffolk communities have a culture of working together and helping those that are vulnerable and in need. People want to help and we are very grateful to those existing, and emerging groups that are and will be assisting people through this pandemic.
“There is no doubt that coronavirus presents huge pressures on us all all, but we are facing, and will overcome, these together. It is perhaps even more important than ever, that we as councillors work with our communities to help establish and support local initiatives to help our residents throughout West Suffolk during these difficult weeks and months ahead.
“At a time of crisis such as this, it is vital that all of us as councillors are able to help build this community resilience, and is why we have made these changes, not just to increase the funding, but also to enable swifter support to some of the newly formed groups that are emerging across West Suffolk.”
The locality budget scheme has been relaxed so that councillors can now fund new groups who may not have created separate bank accounts or constitutions. Previously these groups would have had to undertake those actions before any funding could be awarded.
“Each of the 64 councillors’ locality budgets has also been increased from £2,800 to £3,300. This level of increase will be kept under review during the current crisis and the aftermath.”
The council is able to direct people to other available funding. Groups can contact their local West Suffolk Councillor to discuss available funding or email email@example.com
The council is also sharing Community Action Suffolk’s coronavirus guidance for groups which includes advice on handling cash and safeguarding and is available at www.communityactionsuffolk.org.uk/covid-19-response
Anyone that is vulnerable, at home and with no other support from family or friends available to them, can call the Home But Not Alone freephone 0800 876 6926 which is staffed from 9am to 5pm, seven days a week.
West Suffolk Council staff provide a response to the calls from residents in its area and the aim is, where possible, to identify a solution in a local area, whether that’s signposting to a shop that takes phone payments and delivers food, to matching people who are vulnerable with local community support to help with things like delivering groceries, medication or essential household goods, in line with government social distancing guidelines.
West Suffolk Council asks community support groups in the area to email firstname.lastname@example.org so that they can help coordinate this.
In addition, the “Home But Not Alone”, service has launched a free app, called Tribe Volunteer, to help connect people who want to volunteer in their communities with neighbours who are most in need. The service will mean willing volunteers, charities, town and parish councils, community and religious groups can all log their details and offers of support on an app which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
The “Home, But Not Alone” service was created by partners from Suffolk’s councils, police, health bodies and charitable organisations which come together as the Collaborative Communities Board.