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Spotlight on the community sector

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the community sector has arguably been in the spotlight more than ever before, delivering valuable services for people needing support across Cheshire West and Chester.

Cheshire West and Chester Council is working closely with Cheshire West Voluntary Action (CWVA) to put together a fortnightly round up, helping showcase all the fantastic work going on across the sector.

Primary Care Cheshire’s (PCC) wellbeing coordinators have provided plenty of support during the pandemic for adults with a long-term condition or any other social need registered with their GP.  

Between April and September, wellbeing coordinators supported nearly 1,100 new people and contacted people on more than 2,100 individual occasions. 97 per cent of people who were supported said there was an increase in their general sense of wellbeing because of the coordinators.

PCC is also launching some new projects soon, with bereavement support link workers and employment support link workers being introduced to provide non-medical support to people based on their individual circumstances.

Platform for Life offers free counselling and play therapy for families living in Blacon and Lache on low incomes, with 940 sessions delivered remotely during the first lockdown period.

More than 100 referrals were received for families looking for help with mental health issues, highlighting how important it was for the charity to adapt and continue delivering services.

One person who accessed services said: “I have learned I can rely on my counsellor to be there every week. The consistency is beyond perfect. I feel a great sense of genuine trust being built up with every session.”

Chester Football Club (FC) Community Trust ran a Holiday Club during the October half-term, providing an opportunity for 120 children to keep active and play football with qualified coaches in a COVID-secure environment.

For the first time, the Community Trust was able to offer subsidised places for children eligible for free school meals and provided them with a healthy lunch thanks to a grant from the Welcome Network.

The Neuro Therapy Centre has been delivering therapies, exercise classes, counselling and peer support for people with a neurological condition and their carers since 1985, but services have completely changed during the pandemic.

A Telephone Support programme has made more than 4,700 calls since March, with a particular focus on those who don’t use a computer or social media so they didn’t “slip through the net”. One-to-one and group counselling sessions also took place virtually to address any mental health issues.

Through the Exercise Support programme, virtual exercise classes took place nine times a week on Zoom and video tutorials were posted on social media for people to access.

A Social Support programme has provided support and buddying groups for people to attend, while plenty of support with safeguarding and signposting has been offered.

The Neuro Therapy Centre reopened its doors back in September in line with the latest guidance, which it has been adapting and complying with ever since.

Kingsway and Newton Residents Association has been supporting many people through a Community Hub, helping with things like food shopping and prescriptions, school holiday lunch packs and accessing the right support from other organisations.

With demand on services increasingly significantly, new volunteers have helped the Community Hub cover a larger area and continue offering support for as long as it’s needed.

One person said: “The food bag has helped so much. We are lucky to have such a wonderful community.”

Cheshire Autism Practical Support (CHAPS) has been helping adults learn social and other life skills, as well as develop friendships and build trust with others, through its Learning4Life project.

There are many other valuable services provided for autistic people, such as online classrooms and mental health intervention support.

Dial West Cheshire led the Purple Tuesday campaign locally on Tuesday 3 November with Paint West Cheshire Purple, encouraging people and organisations across Cheshire West and Chester to wear purple.

Despite the current challenges of COVID-19 restrictions, Dial recruited 19 organisations to take part, including Chester Zoo, ChesterBID and others, and had a flurry of public support. The campaign review video has been featured in the national Purple Tuesday campaign.

Purple Tuesday is a change campaign for organisations of all sizes from all sectors to get involved in, with the common goal of improving the customer experience for disabled people 365-days-a-year.

Have you got a story to share about the brilliant work you’re doing in the community? Please email: enquiries@chesterva.org.uk. You can also post your stories on the Council’s Inspire Cheshire West website. 

Pictured - Chester Football Club (FC) Community Trust ran a Holiday Club during the October half-term.

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