Peterborough council invests £460,000 to help vulnerable communities tackle effects of COVID

Peterborough City Council is to invest a further £460,000 in helping some of its most vulnerable communities to tackle the effects of Covid-19, including overcoming barriers to vaccination and helping people recover economically.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 5:09 pm

The Council has announced plans to partner with Peterborough Council for Voluntary Service and invest £300,000 to establish a team of seven community-based workers to be placed at the heart of efforts to support vulnerable communities.

It will also launch a new £100k small grants programme to help communities to access funding for recovery projects and set up a £60k Time Credit and Community Training scheme, rewarding citizens for the work they do voluntarily in communities.

The investments are all part of the Council’s Think Communities programme, which seeks to make sure that residents are at the heart of everything the Council does. It will see the seven-strong team of community workers recruited from existing voluntary, community and faith sector organisations, all of whom have worked closely with the Council over the past year.

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Cllr Irene Walsh, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “As we begin to see services reopen over the coming months, it is vital that our residents are supported to recover from the effects of the past year. But it’s also vital that everyone continues to play their part, including getting their vaccination when invited to do so, and to carry on following all of the guidance around social distancing and self-isolating where necessary.

“We know that for many of our residents the guidance can sometimes be confusing, or their circumstances make it more difficult for them to be able to follow the rules. This new team of community workers, who will be based in the heart of our communities, will be there to work with them to remove those barriers and make sure they have all the facts and information they need.

“I’m delighted therefore that we’ve been able to partner with the Council for Voluntary Service on this project, who have all the expertise and knowledge to attract the right people for these important roles.”

The new team’s main focus will be to make sure all communities have the correct information about the vaccination programme, identify and address any barriers to people being able to get their vaccine or to self-isolate if they need to, and directly work with communities affected by outbreaks of the virus, helping them to keep safe and recover quickly.

Most importantly, though, the Council is keen to start to look ahead, working with communities as they begin to emerge from the current restrictions in line with the Government’s roadmap. In particular the focus is on helping those who have lost employment back into work with re-training or volunteering schemes which will help them gain permanent employment as soon as possible.

The team will also work with other partners to make sure people continue to have good opportunities to keep fit and well, for example through ensuring people can exercise in their local parks or join, or even run, local community groups that help them connect with new friends. And the team will also help people who have become isolated or lonely through the pandemic by linking them up to local projects that bring people together, once it’s safe to do so.

The Council’s new small grants project will look to invest in community-run projects – with details of how to apply publicised soon. In addition to this, there will be a ‘Time Credits’ project where people can volunteer to do things for their neighbours or others in their community in return for earning credits that can be used to receive benefits such as cinema passes or access to leisure opportunities.

Cllr Walsh continues, “This work is part of our Think Communities approach and builds on the incredible efforts of our communities and volunteers over the past year. We’ve seen the impact of working even more closely than usual with the voluntary sector and how they have often been able to respond more quickly than we can to deal with problems before they become crises.”

The Council’s Covid Support Hub, which has been running throughout the pandemic providing practical support or information for anyone that needs it, will become a permanent feature as part of this new approach, making sure that residents can get direct information about opportunities or support available to them easily and quickly. Information about the hub can be found on the council’s website at www.peterborough.gov.uk/coronavirus.