The Coordinated Community Support programme has hosted regular video calls with local authority representatives and VCS organizations in each pilot area to establish how the CCS programme can support local responses to the pandemic. Issues highlighted in Oldham included support for people with No Recourse to Public Funds, access to re-used furniture and white goods and the challenge of reaching digitally excluded people who are particularly vulnerable at this time.
The Coordinated Community Support team are working with Action Together, the local voluntary and community sector (VCS) coordinator, to map how VCS crisis support services are currently operating, and to disseminate information on how this amended provision can be accessed. Action Together is an infrastructure body which helps local people access available assistance, in addition to providing support to strengthen VCS organisations across Oldham. Alongside the Local Authority and Oldham food bank, Action Together is leading delivery of the emergency Covid response in district hubs across the Borough.
The team are working with SAWN (Support and Action for Women Network) to provide emergency furniture packs, fuel top-ups and food to some of the most vulnerable, including those with No Recourse to Public Funds. SAWN run a reused furniture shop in Oldham and work to promote the welfare of Black/African women in Oldham and the surrounding area. SAWN have recently opened a helpline and are currently offering information and guidance by phone and online in several languages to help overcome language barriers in the local community. They work with partners to not only meet the emergency need but also provide longer term holistic support on issues relating to housing, immigration and mental health.
The CCS programme is funding a 6-month emergency expenses pot for the Ancora project. Ancora provide holistic and ongoing support to people in extreme financial hardship across Oldham. The project is a partnership between KeyRing Living Support Networks, Oldham Foodbank and Christians Against Poverty. CCS funding will enable Ancora to provide emergency fuel and phone top-ups, supermarket vouchers, safer travel costs and support with digital inclusion. The programme is also funding information leaflets for Oldham food bank parcels on how to access advice and support from Ancora.
A new local clothing bank which was created to meet a need identified during the peak of the pandemic is receiving support from the CCS programme team to strengthen the scope and sustainability of its offer.
The programme team have convened two new local working groups with LA and VCS partners in recent months- one focussing on improving access to re-used furniture and white goods, the other on coordinating school uniform donations across the borough.
A number of practice sharing calls for partners in all four pilot areas have been held in recent months. Themes discussed in a 'Recovery' workshop included responding to a growing demand for welfare rights advice, practicalities association with the resumption of face to face services and increasing demand for mental health support services.
Year 1 of the pilot
Responding to Covid-19 has obviously dictated CCS programme work in all pilot sites in recent months. September 2020 marked the first year of the pilot in Oldham, and this felt like an appropriate time to bring local partners together to consider how the next phase of the programme should develop.
The main purpose of the Year 1 Partnership meeting was not to review the previous year but rather to look ahead. This short briefing note was shared with local partners beforehand and attendees were invited to sign the new Oldham Partnership Charter which sets out the aims local CCS programme partners are collectively working towards.