26 Mar 2020
In just three weeks the Coronavirus Community Fund has reached a total of £1 million! Awarding over 245 community groups and awarded over £624,000 to groups seeking to help the vulnerable in their communities in this challenging time. We have some great stories from groups who are making an impact in their communities below. You can view a list of all groups supported here.
Bangor Alternatives have been proactive in their Covid19 response working directly with families and residents who are vulnerable and in need of support.
Working in partnership with Bangor NI Foodbank, Simon Community & Rathgill Community Association they groups have provided a platform for residents of Kilcooley and Rathgill to facilitate assistance in whatever way they can. Supporting those in the area who are self-isolating, vulnerable, lonely or needing support with essential items, be it groceries, mail, collection of pharmacy or even a friendly daily chat, Bangor Alternatives have adopted their usual face to face support to suit the current situation.
A counselling service is offered for individuals with a trained CBT counsellor on site.
Postcards have been delivered to houses in the area where older people can highlight their need and the group can respond accordingly with food; medicines; emotional and psychological support as well as helping people navigate their way through the benefits system if they become unemployed. Currently, the group have delivered 30 essential prescriptions to people and 113 people have benefited from essential food packages.
In addition, they run online sessions; quizzes and activities to engage especially young people who are feeling isolated providing a sense of community and belonging for individuals at home. An invaluable project highlighting the resilience and compassion of our communities during such an unprecedented time.
Mens Action Network
Working towards a befriending and counselling helpline for older men in the North West area. Men’s Action Network recognises that loneliness can contribute to serious mental and physical health problems. Therefore the team have set up a telephone service for older people (50+), supporting many of whom are feeling vulnerable in their community due to the uncertainty surrounding Coronavirus.
Their dedicated team of volunteers offer this service remotely aiming to limit the feeling of isolation in their community. Not only acting as a listening ear for older people in need of social contact and reassurance but as a signposting organisation directing anyone in need of support to the correct service.
Men’s Action Network are working with a list of nearly 400 individuals in the Derry and Strabane area aged 50+. Advertising their service in retirement homes, GP surgeries and within the community at large. The group have been inundated to date by the community asking for advice regarding support for those who are isolated within their community.
Momentum Community Choir
On March 11th due to the escalation of the Coronavirus Momentum Community Choir took the difficult decision to cancel their choir practices and performances for the foreseeable future. Since then many members who are 50+ reported a sense of loss of contact and feelings of anxiety and fear. The choir director has been keeping in touch with members via email and texts in an effort to continue to discharge the duty of care and provide support, however they thought more could be done.
Momentum Community choir developed the Momentum Community Connect Project. Enabling members to connect and safely communicate with each other sharing music videos, a safe space to chat, a Momentum Connect Newsletter will be shared and “Momentum Mind Yourself” virtual sessions will be transmitted where choir members can join together in the safety of their homes to relax and top up with self-care tips and techniques.
In addition to all this the choir have set up virtual choir practises and performances allowing their members to continue to do what they enjoy most together. This project will continue to grow a sense of community and belonging within the choir as individuals support each other and encourage new members within the wider community to join through virtual practices and performances. Choir members can encourage friends and family to partake in the project thereby allowing a range of audiences to have fun interaction helping everyone’s mental health. The project is vital for those members who are feeling vulnerable during the isolation period that will arise as a result of the threat of Covid19. This Momentum Community Connect Project is a light of hope, comfort and joy in the days and weeks ahead for many members in their community.
Monkstown Boxing Club
Monkstown Boxing Club have transformed their club space into a central point to pull together food packages and essential resources for the vulnerable. These packages are delivered by volunteers to those most in need in the Monkstown and Rathcoole area. They have also set up a pop-up soup kitchen providing homemade soup for those in need.
Paul Johnston, staff member “At times of crisis a community is measured by its response and its actions. Our project will aim to bring the community together, increase the collaboration of the voluntary and community sector and work in partnership with the private sector to ensure those most vulnerable are supported in this challenging time. Working in conjunction with the neighbourhood renewal partnerships in Rathcoole and Monkstown we will identify those most at risk and make sure no-one is isolated.”
Good Morning Larne
Good Morning Larne, a telephone befriending support service for older people in Larne and surrounding areas. Good Morning Larne has 115 seniors on their telephone friendship service, many who are experiencing more fear with regard to the Coronavirus, such as “where to get accurate information”, “what to do about medications”, “who would know if I took not well”. The group has increased the number of telephone calls they make, as individuals wish for more connections during this frightening time. The phone calls involve talking about the latest developments and fears with others but sometimes just a chat on the telephone is enough to help relieve some anxiety.
Good Morning Larne are working to maintain the daily telephone calls to current and new clients right through this pandemic, even if their centre is required to close, they have remote accessing to all call lists and have staff and volunteers prepared for lone working. The team are working to train additional telephone volunteers to meet the demand for additional calls.
Cloughmills Community Action team
On top of providing food deliveries and essential items to the most vulnerable in their communities, Cloughmills are preparing ‘take and make’ bags which includes recipes and all the ingredients to make a nutritious meal for 2 people. The take and make bags will only be delivered to those who are capable of making meals at home providing them with a task and a meal providing a distraction from the Coronavirus.
Cloughmills are also using ‘Kindness cards’ as a way to help individuals feel less isolated in these challenging times. 120 individuals have already received these cards through their door with contact details of a volunteer offering their support and services from collecting shopping and medication to a friendly phone call.
We are delighted to see communities all across Northern Ireland are coming together to make a difference through a range of projects supporting the most vulnerable. The Coronavirus presents a range of challenges for everyone, those of which are continually changing and as a Foundation, we will work to adapt our fund and services accordingly.
We would like to extend our appreciation and thanks to various funders including – Department for Communities, Ulster Garden Villages Limited, the ARN Foundation, The VSB Foundation, National Emergencies Trust and Derry City & Strabane City Council have all contributed to this fund.