Rotherham’s Bright Lights respond to the coronavirus
As a Community Catalyst it’s no surprise to me that the community has responded so courageously to what is an unknown situation. In such difficult times it’s crucial to recognise these amazing acts or ‘bright lights’ as it’s this response that will see our society through.
Rotherham is filled with many bright lights that all deserve recognition. Many have found new ways to collaborate such as the launch of the Rotherham Heroes Volunteer Programme which is a partnership between Rotherham Council, Voluntary Action Rotherham and the Rotherham Together Partnership to coordinate local heroes to ensure others in the community get the help they need.
We have all had to drastically change the way we work in the current climate. For our project in Rotherham (supporting a number of community enterprises who provide a great range of options for people with a learning disability) that has meant collating crucial information using our Small Good Stuff website to share with enterprise leaders. We have also worked alongside our partners at Rotherham Council and the community enterprises to support them both in the crucial roles they are playing.
It has been an inspiration to see the response from the entrepreneurs in Rotherham and the key role they have in wider community resilience. As I was sending information on business contingency planning, they were already actioning different ways of working with the wellbeing of their members being the driving factor. Contingency plans have included regular and often daily contact with their members, activity packs or online workshops, utilising new communication technology and supporting people and their families with things like shopping and information.
They have also supported each other and offered staff, resources, equipment and their buildings to support the wider response – all while facing uncertainty for their own futures.
The response has been across all enterprises and is too vast to capture but some of the amazing responses have included:
- Speakup have been key contributors in sharing information, such as the promotion of hospital passports and easy read material that will be of great help to many people in Rotherham (further information here www.speakup.org.uk/coronavirus). They have utilised modern technology with some people experiencing online meetings for the first time through their daily Zoom meetings and WhatsApp group. They do group singing and yoga, some of their members run a quiz and all in addition to daily calls to all members to check how they are and if there is anything they need.
- Parity Care changed their usual offer to accompany people with a learning disability to open spaces to ensure that those that needed to get out, could continue to do so. As the national advice changed, they have had to regularly adapt their plans and at each stage discussed it with their members and their supporters to ensure the most suitable plans for each person. They are actioning daily phone calls, online meetings, visits where necessary and have been crucial in the continued wellbeing of not only members but also many of their families. They were also one of the first to offer their base and support to anyone in the community that needs it.
- Artworks have been in constant contact with their members, providing people with art packs so that they could continue their projects in lockdown and ensure they are occupied with work that they love. This has also led to the launch of their new YouTube page. People have been sharing their art on social media as well as contributing to the rainbow campaign. Artworks have had to run contingency plans in both Rotherham and Sheffield but have still managed to also provide staffing support to people living in supported living accommodation in Rotherham. Their drive is to help as much of the community as they can.
These incredible enterprises show just how many bright lights there are across Rotherham and how they all combine to make a resilient community. It’s through community that we will get through a global pandemic and community and all its bright lights that will drive rebuilding when the lockdown ends.
In these difficult times, we’d love to hear your stories of how you are supporting people who are isolated in local communities. Please share your own stories on social media with the hashtag #brightlightsinadarkworld and tag Community Catalysts into your posts so we can spread some joy and hope.
by Harry Clarkson – Rotherham Community Catalyst