Community Action Suffolk (CAS) are launching an exciting new county-wide scheme to help communities to come together to tackle the problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Covid Support Buddy project, funded by Suffolk County Council, will work across Suffolk to develop a network of specialist Covid-Support Buddies to help those in their local communities that are impacted by Covid-19 and to help reduce the spread of the virus.
The goal is that existing community groups will add a Covid-Support buddy to their ranks, supported by the Covid Support Development Officers at CAS.
Chris Abraham, Chief Executive for Community Action Suffolk, said: “We’re really pleased to be working with Suffolk County Council on this valuable project to reduce the spread of Covid through our communities.”
“At CAS we have seen first-hand the enormous difference that community organisations are making across the region and how so many have stepped forward to help support those in need. We are delighted to have the opportunity to further support those groups to share their time and skills within their communities.”
It is hoped that these groups will be also be able to support those being asked to self-isolate; a Buddy can help with tasks such as shopping or dog-walking or simply by making contact to reduce loneliness. Many people are avoiding track and trace or not adhering to self-isolation requests as they don’t have a plan or ways to meet their needs during the isolation period.
Heather Venables, Covid Support Buddies Development Officer at CAS, says “I’m really excited to be involved in this project.”
“Isolation and loneliness have increased so much in our communities because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But at the same time Covid has brought out a real community spirit that many have felt was lacking from life in recent years, offering us a genuine opportunity to strengthen our communities. We all know that living in active and engaged communities has a strong positive effect on quality of life for all involved so it will be wonderful to support community groups to broaden their reach within their neighbourhoods.”
CAS, who already co-ordinate and support a vibrant network of Good Neighbour Schemes, are looking for community groups to join the Covid Support Buddy project. They are offering full training and support along with membership of their Covid Support Buddy Network. If you are part of a group that would like to take part in this initiative please contact CAS for a Covid Support Buddy pack.
Each Buddy volunteer will be trained to support individuals using the Community Circles model. They will help people to create a circle of support which will help them to be happier, healthier and more connected to their community. Dave Moore, Covid Support Development Officer, says “I am especially pleased that this initiative will bring buddy skills and the Community Circle approach to local grass roots groups that have worked so hard during the pandemic and to enhance their contribution to the community”.
“We are looking forward to working with these local groups to recruit and develop buddies and develop befriending skills to directly address isolation exacerbated by the Covid Pandemic”.
“Even those groups that already have a befriending offering in their communities can benefit from the training and coordination that CAS can provide”.
To ensure that all communities are included in the project, CAS is currently looking for a Diversity and Inclusion worker to join the team. They will help the project to reach communities that are not often heard and to understand the impact of Covid on them, the challenges and possible solutions.
If you would like support from a Buddy, please contact Community Action Suffolk on 01473 345400.
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