At the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak, Nova Wakefield District was involved in establishing the Covid-19 Community Hubs.
The Community Hubs were set up jointly between Nova, Wakefield Council, and Community Anchors/Community Organisations throughout Wakefield District.
The Community Hubs offer vital support to the vulnerable and isolated people throughout Wakefield District. Some examples of how the Community Hubs provide support are: delivering food parcels, delivering hot meals, befriending phone calls, and delivering medication and prescriptions.
Throughout the pandemic, there has been an average of 230 volunteers providing support each week through the Community Hubs.
In order to support the Community Hubs, Nova facilitates Peer Support meetings. These virtual weekly meetings enabled the Hubs to update us on problems and scenarios - it quickly became a mutual support group with Nova acting as the conduit of information.
We quickly identified that there was a higher need for food parcels than the Council had anticipated and planned for. Many of the Community Hubs then became food banks, they mobilised and responded quickly. Nova assisted this adaptation to the Hub role by helping with access to grants such as the National Emergency Trust Fund and provided other procedural advice and assistance, for example how to mobilise volunteers and keep them safe.
Nova has set up online information sessions to talk through scenarios and educate both Community Hubs and other Nova Members.
Another piece of work that Nova has been involved in is assisting four Community Hubs to become Test and Trace centres; to help supplement the existing ones.
I am most proud of the community spirit shown throughout the District. The network of Community Anchors and organisations mobilised quickly and responded to the needs of the community. I am proud that Nova has been able to facilitate and assist all of the transitions, helping the Community Hubs to provide a valuable service to people.
We knew what help people needed, that we could respond to because of things like the Peer Support meetings. By creating a mutual support system, we were able to pass information quickly and easily, both ways. The Nova E-Bulletins to member organisations became weekly, instead of monthly to distribute the news, support and funding opportunities in a timely fashion, as things were developing and being announced at a fast pace.
Nova is going to continue to provide the support that we have been providing, going forward. We don’t have an end point. We will help the Community Hubs and organisations to adapt and carry on being centres. We are re-active; we respond to the things that the Community Hubs need assistance with. We will continue to act as the go-between and relay needs.
The work that has been undertaken during the pandemic has cultivated a better relationship with the voluntary sector and enhanced trust. The data that we have collected shows that the voluntary and community sector can be trusted and can deliver. We have represented the sector at Gold Command meetings, which enabled us to be the voice - I believe this has raised the profile of the voluntary and community sector.