Helping hands across South Kesteven

South Kesteven District Council is working with key partners to ensure a co-ordinated community response is helping our most vulnerable residents during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Across the district, there has been an incredible response to the challenges posed by Coronavirus, with more than 1,500 people volunteering their services, either through groups or as individuals.

Among the latest organisations working alongside the Council to meet the needs of residents at this difficult time are Grantham BHive, part of South Lincolnshire Blind Society, and Evergreen Care Trust in Stamford.

South Kesteven District Council Leader,  Cllr Kelham Cooke, said: "The Council is committed to supporting all residents at this very difficult time, especially those who are most vulnerable. Community organisations, charities and local councillors are also working together and with us to ensure people get the help and support they need when they need it."

Grantham BHive is working with SKDC and a range of other partners to co-ordinate volunteers in and around Grantham in helping to overcome some of the key barriers vulnerable people face.

As part of this support BHive is providing vital shopping and delivery services to those having to isolate and receiving and distributing donations of food and essential supplies.

BHive has developed its electronic payment system to enable people isolating to pay for supplies while maintaining social distancing, thus overcoming one of the key concerns many people have.

Susan Swinburn, from BHive, said: "We are delighted to be working alongside SKDC in this way, as we all come together to tackle the issues that this crisis is throwing at us."

Potential volunteers or vulnerable people seeking help should, in the first instance, contact SKDC's Community Hub on 01476 406177 or email SKCommunityHub@southkesteven.gov.uk 
The hub is open seven days a week from 8am to 7pm and has so far taken more than 850 calls.

SKDC is not just working with partners in Grantham, but across the district.

The Evergreen Care Trust has, for example, set up a Cash Crisis Partnership with the help of a £1,000 grant from SKDC. Through the Partnership, registered volunteers can access cash to purchase essential items for isolated residents and deliver the goods to them. Arrangements are then made for the respective residents to make repayments at a later date, when they can.

Louise Marsh, from the Trust, said: "I believe this is the only operation of its kind in the country and ensures that any resident who cannot access their funds during this crisis can continue to get the supplies they need.

"Although we are based in Stamford we are working with a variety of volunteers and community groups in Bourne, Deepings and the surrounding areas."

More information is available at www.evergreencare.org.uk and the Trust can be contacted on 01780 765900, or email office@evergreencare.org.uk

Foodbanks across the country have had to change their way of working to reduce physical interaction, and those in South Kesteven's four towns have stepped up to the challenge with a variety of solutions.

In Grantham, SKDC has played a key role in the changes including arranging a partnership between the town's foodbank and local Rotary Clubs, so that the foodbank can make deliveries, reducing the need for physical interaction and ensuring residents in isolation get the supplies they need.

The council's Environmental Health team has been providing expert advice and guidance to help the foodbank keep physical contact to a minimum, thereby enabling the foodbank to keep operational with the confidence that they are taking the necessary steps to protect their staff and their clients.

SKDC Cabinet Member for Communities Cllr Annie Mason said: "There are some terrific examples of people and groups coming together to utilise their strengths for the benefit of others.

"We are living in an incredibly stressful time, but it is heartening to see that it is bringing out the best in a huge number of people who are doing all they can to help.

"There is a long way to go but the response so far from communities across South Kesteven has been absolutely fantastic."