The Community Sector Emergency Response Team (C-SERT) and PAVO have worked together to present a limited amount of funding which is available to help communities respond to the Covid-19 emergency. One of the organisations who received funding from the first round is the Newtown Network.
Newtown Network is a recently formed collective of organisations in the town, responding to the needs of the community during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Network includes the Town Council, PAVO Community Connectors, Ponthafren Association, South Montgomeryshire Volunteer Bureau, the Salvation Army and All Saints Church. There are volunteer ‘Neighbourhood Angels’ in 13 different areas across the town, co-ordinating local volunteers to help with errands such as shopping and prescription collections.
Julia Gorman, Ponthafren Service Delivery Manager, explained more:
“I became a volunteer in the Newtown Covid-19 group after seeing the group on Facebook. It was started off by one young lady, joined soon by two town council staff Sorelle White and Karen Barclay, also as volunteers. However, after a short period I realised the group could do with Ponthafren’s expertise brought into the group, and after discussion with our director, Claire, who agreed. The town council staff also brought Newtown Town council to build the support network.
The first meeting took place via Facebook messenger in an evening, between the four of us volunteers then the next meeting in the town council offices on the 20th March, along with the Mayor David Selby, Reverend Nia Morris, Sam and Daniel Jones, Salvation army and the food bank. Also present was Jane Jones from the Volunteer bureau.
Since that first meeting, Claire Cartwright, Ponthafren Director, PAVO Community Connector Claire Powell and Nick Venti of PAVO, have been part of the group. The Newtown Network as it has been named has met daily, via zoom for 5 weeks, to discuss the planning and implementation of the support via the community angels, who cover every part of Newtown along with the volunteers. Also working closely with businesses and other voluntary organisations who are helping the vulnerable in the community and forming a leaflet with all the information of services available in the Newtown community.
Early on it was established a telephone number would be beneficial for the community to contact if they could not access the information they required from other sources. I saw an advert from AL Technical offering community hub phones to support such groups as the Newtown Network. Aled Woosnam of AL Technical installed the phone in Ponthafren and has donated his line to the cause. The phone lines are manned by Ponthafren staff, to deal with the enquiries from the community, Monday to Friday 10am until 4.30pm.
The Newtown Network was successful in applying for funding from C-SERT, this has enabled us to fund extra free meals for those who are vulnerable in the community.”
Julia told us about a couple of the people the Newtown Network has been able to support with meals thanks to this funding. Names have been changed.
“I got a phone call very early days of this epidemic from Pam, a lady of 96 who was afraid she would not be able to collect her medication as her son and daughter in law had to isolate. We got talking and she was interested to hear about community cafè 'meals with wheels' service and signed up straight away. After her first week, she rang with the name of a neighbour and the following week with two more. She speaks to me at least once a week to say how much she enjoys the meals and how glad she has been to pass our information to others. She has now enrolled another customer, a gentleman she is very worried about as he is 89!!!
Another client, James, lives out in the hills and has done all his life. James is in his 80s and lives alone. He had a career employed privately, before the pandemic, but she left to isolate on day one. When James rang me part way through week two, to order a meal, he had not seen a soul for two weeks. He admitted to being lonely. He had been told he could have a hot meal delivered; we agreed to take a meal. He was excited as it meant that someone would come and he could talk from a safe distance. He now rings me with a shopping list and that goes up with his meal.”
The C-SERT Emergency Fund is drawn from the Welsh Government Integrated Care Fund (ICF), allocated by the Powys Regional Partnership Board (RPB). Applications for the second round of grants close at 5pm on Sunday 10th May 2020. For more information click here.