Although Volunteers’ Week is over, the Month Of Community continues. Read here about how Poynton Town Council and their volunteers mobilised to meet the challenges of the pandemic within their community.
Poynton Civic Hall, a Cheshire East Connected Community Centre, sits in the heart of the town of Poynton and is the hub of the community. In normal, pre-Covid days, the Hall was full of activity. Whether it was hosting Councillor surgeries, Citizens’ Advice Bureau appointments, counselling sessions or more sociable activities like music lessons, dance classes or exercise workouts, there was always something happening.
In terms of groups run by volunteers, the Town Council support the Time Out Café for independent elderly residents and Poynton Pick and Tidy volunteers keep the town looking its best.
Early last year, when the prospect of Covid-19 reaching our shores became a reality, the Council took the early decision to pause council activities and focus on preparing for lockdown. Ahead of this, volunteers distributed fliers to every household in Poynton, informing people that help was at hand but also asking for volunteers to help support their neighbours if they were able. The phone started ringing that afternoon and didn’t stop for weeks.
Poynton Town Council’s website had regularly updated information about local support services especially around mental health and social isolation as well as businesses who were delivering food provisions.
With just a small team at Poynton Town Council, help was enlisted and eagerly provided by groups such as Churches Together, Poynton Runners and U3A. As calls for help came in, support was provided by the wider team with banks of volunteers behind them.
In addition to the help line, requests for volunteer Street Champions were put out over the Poynton Supporting Poynton Facebook page. The Town Council mapped the coverage to ensure all parts of Poynton were covered. During the pandemic, over 100 volunteers were helping to support the most vulnerable people in the community.
As we head into calmer waters, the need for support has subsided, but certainly not disappeared and new collaborations are taking shape to look at community needs during this transition and recovery phase. The Civic Hall has been hosting vaccination clinics since January and classes and support groups have re-started again as permitted by Government guidance, so life is returning to some level of normality, but there is a long way to go.
Sharon Duke, Communities Co-ordinator at Poynton Town Council said “There’s no doubt that the pandemic proved an extremely difficult time for many people. Lives have been changed forever and it will take time to get back to normal. But some good has come from this testing time. As Poynton Together, we are working with Churches Together and other partners to look at tackling issues in our community such as food poverty and mental health. Stronger relationships have been developed with these and other community organisations which might not have happened without Covid”.
The picture shows volunteer Kev outside the pharmacy ready to deliver prescriptions.