COVID-19 has been a strange time for us all. The pandemic has led to many changes and left us all experiencing an array of emotions. However, one positive we can all agree on is the fantastic community spirit seen throughout the country. From the Thursday night applause for NHS workers, to the rainbows school children have been placing in their windows, as a nation we came together.
Without a second thought, community groups up and down the borough jumped straight into action by offering a range of help such as delivering food packs, collecting shopping, making phone calls and collecting prescriptions for those who were shielding. Well Doncaster was able to support by supporting foodbanks to ensure there was enough food stock and PPE to safely meet the needs of the most vulnerable. Well Doncaster has supported Doncaster social enterprise Refurnish, to offer ready-made face coverings and materials for groups to make them, which are then donated to vulnerable residents and community groups. A collaborative of foodbanks from across the borough have been successful in securing £25,000 from the South Yorkshire Community Funding, in partnership with Doncaster Culture Leisure Trust to launch projects around food poverty.
Promoting and supporting good mental health through the lockdown and beyond has been a priority of both Well Doncaster and Doncaster Council. Working together with other local partners Doncaster Council launched “5 Ways to Wellbeing during the Coronavirus outbreak.” Webpage. This pages offers links and advice on how to connect, keep learning, take notice, getting active and ways to give to others. Well Doncaster Officers sourced local based content for the page to ensure that residents were aware of what was happening local to them.
Before the lockdown Well Doncaster was facilitating a series of monthly community based peer groups to support residents to manage their long term conditions more effectively and find peer support from others. Well Doncaster has strived to help residents stay connected by continuing the peer support groups fortnightly and online. The peer groups support residents with Diabetes, COPD, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain by delivering sessions with key speakers who are giving advice and answering questions.
This is the first part of a four part post focusing on the four localities of the borough (South, East, North and Central) and all the fantastic work that has been happening throughout the last 5 months.
We have a spotlight on the South of Doncaster written by Well Doncaster Officer for the South Faye McDool. Towards the start of 2020, Well Doncaster had many exciting events in the pipeline for the south of Doncaster…On the 26th February, Ladies Day came to the Martinwells Health Centre in Edlington in partnership with Aspiring2. The event was to encourage women to do regular breast exams and to book their cervical cancer screening. There were nurses on site to carry out smear tests and other health services to chat to anyone who wanted support and advice. Over 50 women attend and resulted in 2 women having their smears and 2 booking in for a future appointments.
Garage 32 held a donation day in Denaby where we received 5 donations of households good and furniture which have since gone to families living in crisis.
Then lock down came…
Communities across the South of Doncaster have been extremely active in providing help and support to the most vulnerable residents.
In Edlington, Edlington Community Organisation (ECO) and Helping Hands at Hilltop Community Centre have gone above and beyond with supporting their community around a wide range of needs. Throughout the pandemic ECO have supported around 2,000+ individuals with emergency food parcels, care packages, community cupboard, hearing aid batteries, slow cookers, slippers and confectionery packs as well as daily wellbeing checks. ECO have contributed over 523 volunteer hours including evenings and weekends. Additionally they were successful in applying to the Active Community Grants which supported them to deliver 61 activity packs to children which included multiple sporting equipment.
Helping Hands has reported aiding over 1,500+ people supported with food parcels, Smile packs, parent packs, and calls totalling more than 1800 hours of volunteering.
In Conisbrough and Denaby, the Ward Councillors and Craganor TARA have teamed up to deliver food to members of their community. Together, they have distributed parcels, PPE and have received 250 face coverings to give to groups and the most vulnerable in the community.
On Monday 13th July, Active Dearne relaunched weekly walks which had a tremendous turn out on the returning session. At the moment the walk are on a pre booking systems so Active Dearne can ensure the to the group keeps to the person limit and social distancing can be adhered to.
As always, FoodAware has been going above and beyond to be able to provide food to those in need. They have supported in their thousands across the borough by providing to their Mexborough residents as well as offering supplies to foodbanks across Doncaster.
There has been some fantastic work in Rossington from Arks and Craft who have come together with other community organisations and supported over 500 residents through food parcels, online games and quiz events and a host of other activities.
Throughout COVID-19 response and into recovery I have witnessed and been able to support a tremendous amount of support and sense of community spirit across the South of the Borough. There has been nothing but help for the most vulnerable and it has been moving to hear the incredible stories of compassion from residents.