Today is #NationalLinkWorkerDay which showcases and celebrates the impact of Social Prescribing Link Workers and West Lancs CVS would like to offer a huge thank you to its Social Prescribing Service team.
The service which initially began in August 2018 as a small-scale pilot for the Skelmersdale area, has now expanded and covers the whole of West Lancs.
The service has proved invaluable during the pandemic, offering vital support for the most vulnerable people in West Lancashire. The team has focused on delivering support to those who are shielding or are considered ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ during lockdown. Even though face to face contact has proven a challenge, the team have risen to this and continue to take referrals from GPs.
Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health (King’s Fund 2020).
West Lancs Social Prescribing aims to connect people back into their community.
Greg Mitten, Chief Officer of West Lancs CVS said: “Thank you to all our West Lancs Social Prescribing Team, it’s been a privilege to witness how hard everyone has worked from the start of the pilot in Skelmersdale, through to the extension of the service across West Lancashire and most recently in their work during the pandemic alongside NHS , local authority and voluntary sector colleagues to support the ‘shielded’ members of our community. The voluntary sector, CCG Commissioners, GP practices, NHS and Local Authorities are working in partnership to maximise the positive benefits Social Prescribing supports. Social prescribing supports these benefits because it recognises the gifts, skills and capacities of individuals and the power of connected communities”.
When national lockdown started in March, one of the immediate challenges in West Lancs was to get essential medications out to people who were shielding or vulnerable. It was a challenge taken on by staff from West Lancs Community Leisure who, having been furloughed from their leisure centre jobs, stepped up to become medication delivery volunteers.
Mark from Serco says ’24 staff from West Lancashire Community Leisure volunteered to deliver much needed vital medical supplies to residents in West Lancashire whilst the leisure centres were closed and the staff are on furlough. A massive thank you to everyone involved’.
Later in the Spring, as lockdown began to ease and it was apparent that the Serco staff would need to return to their work at local leisure centres, West Lancs CVS took on this vital role and stepped in to recruit more volunteers to take their place.
In anticipation of the switchover and to ensure a smooth transition, CVS recruited a total of 36 volunteers during May, from which 18 were trained up online by the CCG and then DBS checked by CVS. Initially they started working alongside the Serco staff in June so they were fully ready to take over when Serco staff had to return to their jobs in July.
Jill Bradley, Operations Manager at CVS says,
‘the Volunteer Medicine Delivery work is a shining example of what can be achieved when voluntary, public and private sectors work together in conjunction with the wonderful volunteers of West Lancashire. We are proud to have taken on this essential role and to continue Serco’s work of coordinating and managing the volunteer team throughout July and August’.
Jan Howard, Volunteering Officer at the CVS’s Volunteer Centre says:
‘We were delighted to be able to help and to see the fantastic commitment and skills of West Lancs volunteers put to such good use. They rose to the challenge magnificently – as they always do!’
From Active Lancashire:
The recent lockdown measures have led to some challenges for some people to be physically active and there is evidence of increasing inequalities in participation relating to certain groups of people. Sport England is keen to tackle these emerging inequalities and as such have made some funding available for community organisations to help keep people physically active. West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust has kindly agreed to match this Sport England funding to provide additional support to help get the communities of West Lancashire active. As a result of this, Active Lancashire is seeking applications from community organisations that can help get or keep people from the following groups physically active:
- BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic)
- People with a disability or long term health condition
- People with low levels of income
In partnership with Sport England, West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust, West Lancashire Borough Council and West Lancashire CVS, Active Lancashire are looking to distribute £14,250 in grants to community groups that can engage the target groups in physical activity.
The funding is a ‘here and now’ fund to keep people in any of the groups above physically active or help get people that aren’t currently doing any activity active. Organisations applying for funding should therefore be in a position to start project delivery within a week or two of a funding decision. The funding is designed to recognise the challenges that some organisations might be currently facing and as such is not just about funding new activities. Organisations that are currently delivering physical activity, who are facing financial challenges due to the current circumstances can apply for funding to support and maintain existing activity.
Applications for funding should be needs led and clearly demonstrate the requirement for the funding and how it will benefit one of the specified target groups.
Funding can be used for a range of things including staff costs, training costs, rent/facility hire, utility costs, IT costs and Insurance.
In order to apply organisations must have a recognised constitution in place and be not for profit. Private or for profit organisations and sole traders are not eligible to apply for this funding.
Organisations can apply for funding from a minimum of £50 up to a maximum of £10,000. We would however encourage organisations not to apply for more than £3,000, so that we can fund a range of projects across the area and provide a variety of support to the communities of West Lancashire.
The deadline for applications is Monday 20 July 2020 and we hope to inform successful applicants by Monday 3 August 2020.
If you would like to make an application to this fund, please complete the application form which can be found by following this link:
Please direct any questions regarding this funding opportunity to Paul Blythin at Active Lancashire – firstname.lastname@example.org
At West Lancs CVS, we support an equal society for all. We know that more needs to be done to create a diverse and inclusive society and that’s why we will continue to work with colleagues from across all sectors and with people living in our communities to stand up for what we believe in. Our thoughts are with the family of George Floyd and with every person and community impacted by prejudice. We stand against racism, now and forever.
As part of our work around equality and diversity, we link with the Lancashire Association of CVSs, which includes the Lancs BME Network and we will be joining with members to think about how we take this work forward.
West Lancs CVS team
We are very sad to join with The Birchwood Centre today to announce that Mary Walker passed away peacefully at home over the weekend.
Mary had been a long-term trustee of West Lancs CVS, The Birchwood Centre, Disability Advice West Lancs and many other West Lancs charities over many years. Mary’s contribution to our sector as a volunteer and trustee followed on from her career working to support communities in different parts of the world before taking up roles with the CVS and other projects in West Lancs.
Anita Abram, former West Lancs CVS Trustee colleague of Mary recalled,
“I never knew anyone more committed to the voluntary sector, to the communities she worked with around the world and to volunteering in her retirement. I don’t recall a time when Mary wasn’t around doing her bit for West Lancashire and for Skelmersdale, never afraid to stand up for what she believed to be right. She will be very much missed and talked about for years to come!”
In remembering Mary, Stella Connell of the Birchwood Centre said,
“Mary will be sadly and dearly missed by all her friends and colleagues at Birchwood, she was an inspiration to all she came into contact with and to me personally. We will remember Mary with fondness and for her tireless energy and lifelong commitment in her endeavour to make the world a better place”
At this point no details are known about the funeral arrangements for Mary. The COVID-19 crisis may limit the number who can attend, however, Greg Mitten, Chief Officer of West Lancs CVS, and Stella Connell, Chief Executive of The Birchwood Centre, would like to invite people to a future event to be planned for less restrictive times as ‘a celebration of Mary’s work’ alongside that of the other VCFS staff and volunteers we have lost in recent times.