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FORUM VCS UPDATE BULLETIN

16 April 2020

From Chief Officer Jason Stamp

We are working in challenging times. The COVID 19 outbreak has had an impact on our work, our staff and the services we provide to local communities. The voluntary and community sector in Hull has responded flexibly to these challenges. I think that we all appreciate that this is likely to be a long-term situation and that we need to be able to respond to situations now and in the future.

We have been working closely with Hull City Council and other partners from the start of this process to make sure that the services you provide are at the heart of the support the City is providing to some of its most vulnerable and isolated residents. Connecting people to communities is one of the key outcomes. We are all committed to ensuring that local people have access to the right services at the right time.

Through this bulletin I wanted to share with you the work we have been undertaking over the past few weeks and provide you with some information about how this is operating and the role the sector is playing. This is very much about partnership and collaboration and making the best of what we have.

CALL CENTRE AND THE COMMUNITY HUBS

As you will be aware Hull City Council have established a central contact number for local residents requesting help and assistance at this time. This number is 01482 300 307. Residents can also request assistance via an on line form which will generate a call back from a member of the Call Centre Team.

Please note that this service is aimed at people who are vulnerable and socially isolated within the community and who do not have access to existing services or have friends, family or neighbours who can provide assistance at this time.

The Call Centre will take information to enable them to establish whether or not the resident is eligible for support and what help and assistance they are looking for.

Hull City Council have also established three Community Hubs who will deal with these requests and signpost residents to appropriate local services within their area, many of which are provided by voluntary and community sector groups and organisations.

The three Community Hubs are based in the North, East and City Centre/ West areas.

To date the Call Centre and Community Hubs have supported 1,920 residents to access support. The majority of requests at this time have been around food provision (including emergency food parcels) and help with the collection of prescriptions.

We also know that a significant number of residents are continuing to receive support and assistance from local organisations who are providing a range of services including help with shopping, food deliveries, online and telephone support and befriending and interactive social activities.

Thank you to everyone for the work you are doing at the moment – this is making a huge difference to local communities and some of our most vulnerable and isolated residents. As the lockdown looks set to continue the services that you provide are going to become more and more important.

VCS SERVICE DIRECTORY

Thank you to everyone who completed our recent survey so we could gather information to create a VCS Service Directory to support the work of the Call Centre and the Community Hubs. 73 organisations responded to this survey in 24 hours and has given us a wealth of information about how the sector is continuing to provide services in these challenging times. We continue to regularly update this Directory, so if you would like to be included please contact ali@nbforum.org.uk.

PRIORITY AREAS

Over the past two weeks we have worked closely with Hull City Council to develop two priority workstreams based on the resident requests coming through the Call Centre.

We have undertaken a mapping exercise of the range of food provision within the City (including emergency food, paid for deliveries, existing foodbank and community provision) which is now being used by the Community Hubs. We have also supported the establishment of three emergency food Hubs in the West/ City Centre, North and East of the City. I would like to say a huge thankyou to EMS, Unity in Community and Goodwin for helping us with this.

The support of volunteers and local communities at this time is one of the most rewarding aspects of this work and thank you for everyone who is volunteering in their local communities, whether or not that is informally supporting an isolated friend or neighbour or registering as a NHS Good Sam Volunteer.

We are keen to support all of the volunteering initiatives that have emerged across the City. In order to help local people requiring assistance with shopping and prescription collection we have been working in partnership with NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group to establish and mobilise a bespoke volunteer programme which has now been launched and is operating successfully via the Community Hubs. Thank you for everyone who is donating their time for free – it really is much appreciated.

DEVELOPING WORKSTREAMS

Whilst Government guidance remains in place and the lockdown continues, we anticipate that the needs of local communities will change. We are now taking the opportunity to scope out a number of new workstreams linked to this which include:

  • Befriending and emotional support
  • Support for children and young people
  • Support for BME communities
  • Bereavement support

If you have any thoughts on any of these workstream areas please contact me on jason@nbforum.org.uk

SERVICE UPDATES

Thank you to all of you who have contacted us to provide updates on your services during the COVID 19 lockdown. It’s good to know that many organisations are working flexibly and creatively to continue to provide valuable services in different ways. Inevitably, some organisations have needed to temporarily suspend activity during this period.

We are publishing an updated list of local services on our website

Please let us know if there are any changes or additions by emailing ali@nbforum.org.uk and we will update the list.

Your service updates are also part of the central VCS resource directory which is being shared with the Call Centre and Community Hubs to support them in signposting local residents to appropriate local services.

COVID 19 GUIDANCE

You will find updated Government guidance on COVID 19 on our special page on our website . As you will appreciate this guidance is developing over time so please keep checking for the latest updates.

FUNDING

As you are probably aware a number of national, regional and local funding streams have been launched to support voluntary and community sector organisations at this time. This funding is aimed to sustain groups and organisations who are at risk and also to allow organisations to continue to deliver key services within their communities. We have information about these funding streams on this COVID 19 page of our website  and this is regularly updated.

IMPACT

As some of you will be aware Hull CVS are currently undertaking a survey on behalf of the NAVCA around the impact of COVID 19 on the voluntary and community sector appreciate that everyone is very busy at this time but it would be helpful if you could take the time to complete this.

SUPPORTING EACH OTHER

From talking to a wide range of groups and organisations over the past two weeks it is really noticeable that the local voluntary and community sector has responded very pro-actively and flexibly to the challenges presented by COVI 19 in terms of delivering services differently and supporting staff to work at home and in different settings. This has been a difficult time for us all. One of the suggestions that has emerged is developing a virtual support network between organisations so that we can share ideas and good practice and support one another with the significant challenges ahead. One of the really positive things that has come out of the past two weeks has been the willingness to work together, collaborate and to share ideas and resources. It would be good to develop a way to continue to do this.

If you are interested in being part of this wider support network please contact Ali Middle on ali@nbforum.org.uk.

Finally, I just wanted to say a huge thank you for everything you have done and continue to do on a daily basis. Your individual and collective response has been amazing and your willingness to share resources and help out where needed has made a massive difference.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me on jason@nbforum.org.uk.

Take care and most of all stay safe

Jason Stamp

Chief Officer

Forum

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