Celebrating Communities Part 3

Welcome to part 3 of our 4 part series highlighting the fantastic and inspiring activity happening in communities across Doncaster.

Part 3 focuses on the North of Doncaster and is written by Well Doncaster Officer for the North, Marianne Turner. Over to Marianne…

The past six months have provided a variety of challenges for communities in the North.  Lockdown, closed venues, social distancing, safety guidelines and new needs from residents are just some of the hurdles which people have overcome to support each other.  The importance of community life and the role it plays in health and wellbeing has never been so prominent.

Personally, it has been incredible to work with so many individuals and groups who work tirelessly to ensure all those who need it are supported. From existing groups who’ve adapted to continue their fantastic work, to new individuals and groups who have sprung into action to help. I’ve been amazed by the spirit, selflessness, generosity and resilience of communities and I’m delighted to be able to share the work of some of these remarkable groups…

When lockdown first happened there was no foodbank running in Bentley. Realising the need for support, Ward Members quickly got to work with St Peters Church to set up a Temporary Foodbank. This was vital in supporting people in the community and also providing food parcels for children identified by local Primary Schools. Bentley Temporary Foodbank has now stopped and Bentley Baptist Church have set up a permanent food bank to continue the essential provision. Ward Members have worked with the community to set up a new Bentley Resilient Community Network who are providing around 40 food parcels a week for schools and vulnerable families as well as starting on exciting new plans to provide new services around welfare and wellbeing in Bentley.  

Manna Community CIC have volunteered over 2,500 hours to deliver a variety of brilliant services to help people to cope with the different challenges they have faced. These have included providing over 4,000 cooked meals, offering wellbeing advice, online courses and even a virtual daily walk. Manna are continuing their great work to support vulnerable people with daily hot meals and wellbeing advice and all of the courses are still able to be accessed here (https://manna.community/).

Bentley Town End TARA set up following last year’s devastating floods and have continued to show their resilience and community spirit during Covid-19. As well as delivering food, hygiene and cleaning parcels to residents, and craft and activity packs to keep children entertained they wanted to bring the community together and promoted the ‘Stay at Home Street Party’ for VE Day. Using donations from residents and local businesses they put smiles on over 100 local residents’ faces by safely delivering cupcakes, scones, jam and cream, hosting an online quiz and a best dressed window competition.

In Skellow and Carcroft, resident Nicola organised over 80 amazing volunteers to cover every street in the area to ensure everyone had access to help should they need it. Essential food parcels were delivered to around 60 households each week and a facebook group was set up which continues to offer support for those who need it. North Doncaster Development Trust (NDDT) now run the foodbank from Bullcroft Memorial Hall every Monday from 9am-12pm. 

As well as continuing the foodbank, NDDT have organised for volunteers to do shopping for essentials, prescription collections and friendly phone calls. They’ve also offered support for people to learn new online skills, distributed Staying Strong at Home booklets (https://getdoncastermoving.org/being-active-at-home) and hosted a special VE Day celebration quiz and baking competition.

In Woodlands, Katie realised there was a need for those struggling to access food, so spoke to All Saints Church and formed All Saints Foodbank at the start of April. This has been a huge achievement and brought a much needed service to Woodlands. Now, Katie and 13 fantastic volunteers continue to help over 75 families every week.

Askern CRY, part of St Peters Church in Askern were an already established foodbank and have adapted and coped admirably with the increase in demand since Covid-19.

Barnburgh and Harlington COVID-19 Support Group were featured on BBC news (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-south-yorkshire-53228013/coronavirus-people-need-to-pull-together-in-hard-times) for the fantastic work they did delivering food parcels to vulnerable members of the community. They also delivered Staying Strong at Home booklets, and PE Parent booklets, craft activity packs, books and held baking competitions to keep children entertained.  

Whilst many who were shielding were given priority online shopping slots. Carl from Scawthorpe realised that wouldn’t help those who are digitally excluded and have no one to help them. Carl now enjoys supporting 16 very grateful households with a weekly call, submitting food orders on their behalf using a unique platform he worked with ASDA to create.

It’s not just those delivering food parcels who have been supporting their communities through this tough time. Refurnish have made face masks and PPE for the NHS and community groups, and Greenwood TARA have been making phone calls to those shielding in their community and distributing face masks.

Bentley Urban Farm have identified the problems community groups now face when wanting to meet and found a solution through creating ‘The Open Space’. An outdoor space designed to allow small groups to come together in a safe, socially distanced environment. Contact warrendraper@gmail.com for more details.

Wheatley Hills Rugby Club have been doing their bit too. One of their members Fin, caught the attention of England Manager Eddie Jones after clearing up shattered glass from a bus shelter.(https://www.englandrugby.com/news/article/wheatley-hills-rugby-volunteer-be-more-like-fin?fbclid=IwAR0Ew0e8O3aYX9CfQtXi3QLfsMxNTAu2gl6KNARnHhFG6L4fCnyUdPfiprA)

The club have also hosted two successful foodbank collection days, gathering many much-needed products and supplying them to Doncaster Foodbank to distribute to those in need. In July, the club organised a community litter pick around Sprotborough and Cusworth to give back to the community where their members have been running to keep fit whilst play has been halted.

St Peters Church have adapted CMA Bentley to be over the phone offering free, friendly, non-judgemental debt advice. Text 07490 582750 to make an appointment. They are fully authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Three groups in the North have successfully applied for the Active Communities Grant over the past few months. Vital Strides in Bentley received funding for equipment to continue fitness classes virtually. When safe, Doncaster YFC have plans to host pop up community panna cage football sessions and Bentley Town End TARA will be hosting community activities and games and encouraging people to use PE Parent packs.

These are just some of the wonderful things groups in the North of Doncaster have been up to over the past six months. I know many groups have fantastic plans and ideas for the future and I can’t wait to share more of their inspirational work in future blogs. In the meantime, to find out more of what’s going on in the North, follow Well Bentley https://www.facebook.com/Well-Bentley-108172260557729 or Well Woodlands https://www.facebook.com/Well-Woodlands-105388377936011on Facebook, or Well Doncaster https://twitter.com/WellDoncaster on Twitter.

You can contact me if you have any ideas for your commnuity or need any support for your organisation at marianne.turner@doncaster.gov.uk or call me on 07971 395978 and 01302 734484

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