Tonyrefail Community Network – Dawn Parkin speaks about what the impact of the Coronavirus and what it’s done for her community.
Just before lockdown, when Covid 19 was coming into our communities, we set up the group with our local Cllrs and the MP. This group is quite new but I’ve been running community facilities in the area for about 7 years.
The group was set up to coordinate volunteers in the area to respond. We wasn’t able to keep the Lighthouse open so the online group meant we could get a volunteer force of people that would meet the needs as they presented.
From providing fresh food and non-perishable items to clothing for babies, we have covered it all. I’ve been amazed at how many people have needed shopping, how were they managing before?
Using the networks of a close knit community and through volunteers we were able to identify who was priority and genuine cases, making sure that the help went to those who needed it most.
A while ago, I remember someone asking me, ‘What does loneliness and isolation mean to your local community?’ and at the time, I didn’t have a clue however, I do now. It’s not just delivering a bag of food, you are continuously making sure that that person is alright and giving them the opportunity to have some connection with you and through that we are learning more about their lives. Everyone I speak to is open to sharing because they are not seeing anyone. What’s surprising is that people can’t believe that people care enough to do this. The thanks off people is just so rewarding.
I’ve kept a database of people we’re supporting so that after Covid we can hopefully get them to engage in to community activities. I want to keep this going and through this, we’re building momentum to keep interest.
Covid 19 has not been a pleasant thing for anyone but it has really shown the community together. When the rubber hits the road, this community is strong and will support one another. I can only see good coming out of this for the future. It has also shown that sometimes, when we cut across the red tape and let communities get on with it… they do a good job.
If people didn’t understand how important volunteers are, they should understand now. This wouldn’t have happened without them. Volunteering is about making people feel better by doing good things it’s taking the focus off themselves and letting people know they are making a difference and that’s why it’s worked so well. Communities make it matter.
I’m looking forward to going back to the lighthouse and seeing this grow with our new audience. We know what the needs are. The amount of people with fear and C19 has enhanced it but we can work together and support people through with the right help and support.