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How are communities dealing with Coronavirus?

March 30th 2020

While we all struggle with the upheaval to our lives brought about by Coronavirus, Lloyd Jones, Project Support Officer at the Bevan Foundation, discusses community responses to the pandemic

The last few days and weeks have been unlike any in living memory for many of us as we come to terms with the impact of Coronavirus on our daily lives. There has been a concerted response from many community groups to help those most in need. As part of our project exploring the potential of the everyday economy in three different valleys communities, we’ve been struck by the rapid response to the crisis in such a short space of time.  There is a sense amongst community leaders and activists that those who are able, are quickly organising and offering their time and services to help the most vulnerable.

In Treharris, shops and businesses are offering free delivery services and more than eighty volunteers are being coordinated to identify and help the most vulnerable. Voluntary Action Merthyr Tydfil (VAMT) are making people aware of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council’s Good Neighbour scheme, where people can post their contact details to others offering their services. They are also using their extensive community contacts to make community groups and charities aware of a £500 grant scheme for necessary and urgent projects that are part of the response. Mindful of the fear and uncertainty we are all feeling,  people are using Facebook to offer help and spread messages of positivity and support to try and lift spirits.

In Treherbert trusted volunteers are working to check in on people – if only by chatting through a window or letterbox – after calls from worried relatives who live away or are self-isolating. Using trusted volunteers also cuts the risk of scammers who unfortunately are using the crisis to trick people out of money by offering to shop for them. Many have also offered their services – filtered through the Welcome to Our Woods group – to complete odd jobs and essential maintenance. Interlink are also using their extensive community network to make people aware of the £500 grant scheme.

In Cwmafan an almost military operation is under way with over 800 trusted volunteers working to map every street and identify the most vulnerable including the elderly or expecting mothers and getting them the help they need. Food is being collected from Morrisons and delivered to their doorstep safely. Contactless payments are being used to minimise human contact. Again, they are using Facebook to manage all the offers of help and to give people an opportunity to show solidarity and support to one another.

It is difficult to be positive at the moment but these examples show how important communities are, how many people are ready to offer any help they can, and how they need to be cherished and supported.

Lloyd Jones is Project Support Officer at the Bevan Foundation, working on a project exploring the potential of the everyday economy in three different valleys communities

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