Reps Blog April to June 2020

These last three months of reacting to the Covid-19 pandemic have had a huge impact on our neighbourhoods and communities. We have been faced with questions and concerns we could not have even imagined and we approach the summer with many uncertainties ahead. Yet, people’s warmth and compassion, understanding and action in responding to such unprecedented need are the lasting tribute to the community’s compassion and resilience. Thank you all.

Local Trust continues to support the 150 areas through help with online networking and events and is holding Big Local Connects online from 9-11 July. Any likely Covid-19 related funding is flagged up such as the Emerging Futures Fund. We share local issues and action to influence wider policy, stressing how Big Local succeeds through strong local relationships, responding to community need, open communication with residents, collaboration and partnership.

As your Big Local Rep, every three months or so, I share my thoughts on local area progress with you as residents and with the central team managing the national programme. Your comments and thoughts are always welcome. 

Priorities and achievements looking back: running things well during Covid-19 and having the new plan assessed and approved. 

Running things

The partnership meets online every fortnight , helping responsiveness to the crisis. Partner agreements, reports on activities, minutes of meetings and stories of action and change are posted on the website. Monthly financial updates are provided by the Local Trusted Organisation, Mansfield CVS. A priority has been getting the new plan submitted, assessed and approved. This is what Wendy Sugarman, the plan assessor, said:

“Your plan is very clear and your action plan relates well to achieving your overall vision and legacy. Your enthusiasm to bring the community together and all the work you are doing on building community infrastructure really comes across. It was great to hear how small groups are being supported both through the Strengthening Communities work with Vibrant and through your own ROLO Community Chest. It was good to hear that despite all the challenges of Covid-19 you are reaching some new people and supporting the community. It is good to see a mix of projects you commission to others but with clear reporting and projects you will make decisions on yourselves. Building in a degree of flexibility around the good ideas fund and the Covid response funding also makes sense so you can continue to adapt based on community needs.”

Doing things

Big Warsop leadership has been quick to respond to the Covid-19 crisis. Maddy Pritchard, the chair, summarised her personal perspective: “The key thing for me is that if we hadn’t been running Big Warsop these last few years and if Vibrant had not been funded for strengthening communities then I, as a member of my community, would be feeling very lost as to what to do right now.

With the community group contacts we have from Big Warsop and Vibrant (through engagement and projects) we have been able to support bringing people together and I feel very proud that we are able to do this. So far some have signed up as volunteers, our networks are getting in touch with and supporting vulnerable people and referring to agencies for specialist support, delivering food parcels.”

That was at the start of this turmoil. Now over the weeks, trust has built up with many residents and Maddy says that “People are sharing more because we have got to know them already and thus real issues are now surfacing and being talked about more openly.” Things like stress, poor mental health, isolation.

Along with such invaluable emotional support, there has been much practical action, helped by Vibrant funding from Sport England to bring staff out of furlough and back into action.

  • Partners have delivered over 300 hampers to households; feeding 477 adults and 278 children.
  • Leaflets about sources of help and support have been distributed across the Parish.
  • Activity packs for children and families have been created and are to go out shortly.
  • Vibrant and PCC is negotiating with Heritage Lottery about what aspects of the Warsop Old Hall project can get underway.
  • Warsop Vale community project orchestrated VE Day commemorations and now design and deliver a regular resident newsletter.
  • ROLO community chest panel approved five applications worth c£2020 (c £1270 from Big Warsop and c £750 from the Rotary).
  • The CAR Warsop project has supported the Children’s Centre in responding to people fleeing domestic abuse and needing emergency rescue packs with for example baby food, bed linen, nappies, baby wipes. The Children’s Centre is looking now to how best support families through the school holidays.
  • Warsop Big Local’s key partner, Vibrant Warsop, is going on the front foot to find out how residents are managing at the moment and what may be the challenges and priorities in the coming months.

Key priorities looking ahead

Vibrant and MCVS are two central organisations in responding to resident needs during the Covid-19 pandemic. Big Warsop’s new plan retains flexibility of approach underpinned by dedicated funding to respond as the crisis unfurls. And Mansfield CVS, Big Warsop’s Local Trusted Organisation, is to be part of the District Council’s post Covid response recovery on the theme of “community and humanitarian response,” representing the whole of voluntary and community sector.

Along with adapting and tailoring responses through the coming months, Big Warsop is committed to a final review before submitting its final plan next summer to determine how best to conclude the programme and funding in the best interests of Warsop Parish residents.