Agenda item

Response to Covid-19 Update

To receive a verbal update from various organisations on the work undertaken in response to the ongoing need in communities as the Covid-19 Pandemic has continued.



The Chair invited representatives on behalf of the Volunteer Hubs (North East area) to provide an update on the work undertaken, in response to the ongoing need in communities as the Covid-19 Pandemic has continued.


The following had been highlighted:


Vanessa Brown, InterACT

·  The service formed a partnership with the churches and community, to meet different needs, whilst battling prejudice and inequalities;

·  Community development work has continued throughout the pandemic and new referrals have been picked up, whilst continuing to support local families;

·  Work has also been undertaken in conjunction with Moortown Baptist Church;

·  There had been 300 new referrals (people coming into the helpline who weren’t repeat referrals);

·  Shopping for residents was the main theme of services provided during the pandemic, as a result of this food parcels are now being provided;

·  Over 300 volunteers initially signed up, and the hub has worked with as many of those as possible – the service are encouraged to build on and to remain in contact with all volunteers.


Corrina Lawrence, Feel Good Factor

·  The feedback from service users has been positive;

·  Local expertise has enabled the hub to sign post people to activities they wouldn’t know about;

·  The ‘Better Together’ service, aimed to reduced inequalities in North East Leeds;

·  The hub devised their own system to provide a seamless service, and to pass information and outstanding requests on to various partners;

·  Be-friending services and the delivery of emergency food parcels had continued throughout the pandemic. Additionally, a be-friending service had also been developed outside of work;

·  It was acknowledged that whilst referrals had dropped, additional support was needed in terms of unemployment over the coming months.


Darren De Souza, Touchstone

·  The daily food requests and support across Leeds;

·  An update on ‘Touchstone Loves Food’ – on 25 March 2020, the first food parcels had been distributed. The service engaged with 85 volunteers across the city, with 30 of those people  being food recipients themselves;

·  In North East Leeds it was confirmed that the service provided 37,000 meals across Chapel Allerton, over 1,000 in Moortown and over 2,300 in Roundhay since March 2020. In total, 167,000 meals were provided across Leeds;

·  Providing support to families has been a big theme in how the service provides support;

·  Touchstone form part of a contract with Mentally Healthy Leeds, and have dealt with 7,000 phone calls, and 300 intensive mental health support calls as part of that work;

·  Funding has been secured to continue operating until November 2021.


In responding to questions from Members, the following had been discussed:

·  Clarity on whether there had been an increase in demand on services in the second phase of lockdown – it was confirmed that whilst food deliveries were still be a requirement due to increased unemployment, the service has been looking at ways to help people support themselves. Additional funding has been obtained in order to better support families, and digital exclusion. Additionally, it was identified that more support was required long-term surrounding mental health and poverty issues;

·  Clarity on the number of meals delivered – 40,000 meals had been provided in the committee area since March 2020, and each delivery would aim to provide 21 meals per individual in a week. The packages included fresh & ambient food, milk & bread and a range of health care products

·  Food provision for ethnic minority backgrounds – it was confirmed that cultural requirements are provided, and additionally, warm food has been provided for recipients unable to cook.


The Committee shared their thanks for the work undertaken on behalf of all of the organisations and volunteers.


The Chair invited Denise O’ Connor (Census Engagement Manager, North East Leeds) and Jason Zawadzki (Deputy Director, Census Collection) to provide the Committee with an update on Census 2021.


The Deputy Director of Census Collection briefly informed Members of his role in running Census across England and Wales and reinforced the importance of Census for businesses and community groups across communities in terms of planning for the future.


The Census Engagement Manager provided the Inner North East Community Committee with a presentation, highlighting the following:

·  Key messages around security and keeping information safe and secure – it was noted that personal information remains anonymous for 100 years;

·  The information obtained helps to shape government policy, and monitor equality. Additionally the information further helps inform decisions that change lives, in terms of future care planning, local housing needs and the education sector;

·  Census will take place Sunday 21st March 2021, and it was confirmed that additional help would be offered in terms of accessibility and language barriers;

·  A mass marketing campaign would commence in the New Year, with every household receiving information on how to participate;

·  Councillors involvement in social media / verbal communications and sharing key contact details;

·  The recruitment process of local people in order to overcome barriers such as language and digital exclusion.


In responding to questions from Members, the following had been discussed:

·  The importance of gaining trust of residents through local and national campaigns and identifying local community leaders to help influence and break down barriers across communities;

·  The contingency plans in place in terms of event planning and the digital support provided to people in terms of Covid-19 restrictions. Members heard the work provided by the service in offering support across communities had already changed, and additional measures would be implemented for safeguarded areas;

·  35k people from across England and Wales would be recruited. It was confirmed that the process has commenced on social media, with the campaign running in December and recruitments through January 2021.


The Chair thanked all for their participation.


RESOLVED – To note the verbal updates


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