New ways to bring communities together – Community Matters

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

Like everyone else, community builders have had to find new ways through this crisis to find ways of maintaining the networks they have built over the last five years.

Normally their weeks pass in a flurry of activity with visits, coffee mornings, arts and crafts clubs, afternoon tea dances and socials that bring communities together. But lockdowns have meant they have had to keep their distance and they have had to come up with new and innovative ways of ensuring that people across the Bay are able to look out for after each other and no-one becomes isolated.

For many, the first lockdown meant becoming a rapid responder – joining queues outside supermarkets and pharmacies to make sure everyone got the food and medications they needed. Others took up references for volunteers and began matching people with people who live nearby to all look support each other, running errands checking in and making phone calls. And at the core of their work was a stream of phone calls to people they knew were vulnerable or did not have their own network of friends or relatives who lived within striking distance.

As lockdowns eased there was a gradual return to face to face meetings when they could see familiar faces and see for themselves how they were

getting along, mentally and physically. But now they are back to square one and miss more than a anything else the physical contact, the laughter that often filled a local church hall or just the background hubbub of a busy social gathering.

It has been one long battle to find ways of keeping the conversations going to ensure that everyone has had everything that they have needed during these often lonely times. In recent weeks, they have helped coordinate the marshals and chaperones needed to maintain a steady flow of people passing through the Riviera Centre in Torquay to have their injections, making sure everyone is in the right place at the right time and helping those that are nervous or worried.

Like so many people, the community builders thrive on human contact, knowing that their work – although it doesn’t always feel like work – can help make a difference to communities across the Bay. And they can’t wait until those days return. Hopefully sooner rather than later.