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Coronavirus: community responses in Merthyr Tydfil

July 15th 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has seen a surge of community activity to support people cope during lockdown. This report outlines some of the responses  in the Merthyr Tydfil county borough area including the experiences of people and organisations giving and receiving a diversity of support.

When the coronavirus struck in March 2020 it generated a wave of community responses focused on providing for basic needs and essentials, supporting well-being and helping some of the most vulnerable.

This report provides a snapshot of the community response in the Merthyr Tydfil borough to the pandemic and identifies common themes, experiences and ways of working. We spoke to a range of organisations involved in the response to the pandemic in one to one interviews.

Helping meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable has been the primary consideration in most responses to the pandemic. Most obviously this came in the form of the supply of food and supporting those with limited support networks, pre-existing health needs, and those in crisis. Some support has also responded to emerging needs in response to lock-down – stress and anxiety, lack of schooling, family trauma, remaining occupied, active, and stimulated. Some support has also focused on supporting key workers in their critical roles.

The coronavirus crisis has forced many organisations to innovate in ways they didn’t expect. Many groups told us that the pandemic had led to new ways of working and activities, which they plan to continue and expand.It generated seismic shifts for volunteers and staff as well as new volunteers and forms of community activity.

We heard of anchor organisations acting as enablers to grassroots groups through the supply of equipment to supply essential goods to people’s doors. We learned of new forms of collaboration between business, communities, statutory services and the third sector, demonstrating that “community” extends much wider than is sometimes perceived.

Coronavirus looks set to remain a defining feature of life for some time, in addition to Brexit, serious economic downturn and other challenges that we may not even be aware of. As such, effective, well- coordinated community responses must be well resourced and supported to ensure the best outcomes for all communities.

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