Community resilience provides lifeline for thousands

Community Resilience Hubs have been established across East Ayrshire by Vibrant Communities in partnership with over 110 community groups.

The hubs, which were established in response to lockdown, coordinate volunteering opportunities and ensure that support is tailored to local needs. By connecting with local organisations and over 1000 volunteers, Vibrant Communities created a local resilience network providing essential services to the most vulnerable.

Through this network, the Council has distributed in the region of £137,000 to support 44 groups providing emergency and supplementary support, befriending and helping with shopping.

Cumnock Juniors Community Enterprise received £3000 from the fund to start up and stock a Food Larder at Townhead Community Sports Hub and Cumnock Juniors Social Club. Since the start of April, the team have delivered over 60 emergency food parcels a week in the town, Auchinleck, Catrine and the surrounding area. Anyone from the local community can access support and priority is being given to those shielding or suffering financially due to Covid-19.

Mhairi McWilliam said: “Through social media, word of mouth and direct referrals from Vibrant Communities, we they have reached hundreds of people in need. We want everyone to feel cared for during these worrying times. Many people have been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity shown to them. We have also found that people we support look forward to a chat on the doorstep with our volunteers.

“The Council’s community resilience funding has allowed us to provide food packages to the most vulnerable people locally and to buy PPE for volunteers. This support has ensured that we can support our communities through difficult times.”

In Galston, the Coronavirus Support Group received funding of £1000 and have been buying shopping for vulnerable families. The group have also shopped for people isolating, picked up prescriptions, taken out bins and made contact with people who are shielded or isolating. They have provided a lifeline to many local families and vulnerable people, ensuring that people are not left without food and know that they aren’t alone during this crisis.

The Zone in Dalmellington, which also covers the Doon Valley; Logan day centre, Kilmaurs Community Kitchen, Foodshare Ark, Crossroads Community Hub and Muirkirk Covid-19 Resilience group have all received funding to provide vital services to their communities. Their work includes providing food, hot meals and toiletries, collecting and delivering prescriptions, providing befriending telephone services, dog walking and helping people with their bins.

Funding was also provided to the Community Welfare Champion project covering Auchinleck and Muirkirk and Get Cash Clever in Netherthird. The projects provide information on benefits to existing clients and to those accessing benefits for the first time due to the impact of Covid-19.

Paul McKenzie, from the Auchinleck community development initiative, said: “In addition to offering benefits advice, we have on a weekly basis taken requests from the public for food shops, prescription pickups, phone and power top-ups, as well as working with Vibrant Communities and Centrestage to deliver food parcels on their behalf.

“All our activities have been widely appreciated and the feedback we have received from the people we support has told us that our work makes lockdown much more bearable for our clients. They have been reassured, knowing that there are people in their community who care and are ready to help.”

Councillor Elena Whitham, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities said: “This is just a snapshot of the incredible work being carried out in our communities by our communities. In Newmilns, I helped to set up and now volunteer with the Newmilns Food Larder. We are supporting up to 30 families each week with food parcels, freshly cooked soup and meals and we are collecting prescriptions and pulling out bins.

“Vibrant Communities created a community resilience network, working closely with community groups and volunteers. This localised, community approach has provided support to thousands of people who may have lost their jobs, be self-isolating or shielding during lockdown.

“This is a time of great uncertainty but I am certain of one thing, our communities are kind and connected. Together we have supported each other to reach the most vulnerable, to support people who are suffering mentally, physically or financially due to Covid-19. We care and that is bringing great comfort to many people during these difficult times.”