When the COVID-19 crisis struck Conwy County Borough Council did not want to close the door on its communities.
Instead, they set up the Conwy Community Support Service. The service has been a lifeline for the residents of Conwy, distributing food parcels, shopping for essentials and delivering prescriptions for those in need.
Initially staffed by 280 volunteers, the services transitioned quickly to using redeployed Conwy Council staff. An app was also created to support the telephone service offered, as well as an IT system to keep track of the calls and requests for service.
Mindful of the contribution made by volunteers to the Community Support Service the volunteers were signposted to Community and Voluntary Support Conwy so that their willingness to help could still be harnessed. At the same time, the volunteers’ details were kept in case of peak demands on the Community Support Service.
The service’s Operational Manager, Elen Edwards mentions on the video how heartening the support that the service itself had received. The service was supported by the Council Leader, Chief Executive and Director of Economy and Place, and the project board provided effective support to the service.
Since launching formally on 1 April, the service has received over 4,000 calls, and even now when things seem to have settled into a routine of sorts the service receives 80-90 calls per day.
Learning from the project
There were challenges, such as managing the expectations on some early shopping lists, but the joint effort resulted in an effective Community Support Service.
Elen feels that this showed ‘Team Conwy’ working at its very best. Much of the usual red tape and bureaucracy was removed, allowing changes and adaptations to be made quickly.
Elen would like this spirit to continue and allow services to be nimble and react to situations at they develop.
Elen felt that the Community Support Service was the project which she felt most proud of having worked on, going on to say that it shows the important role that local government has to play in a crisis like this.