New support service and £1million action fund launched in Exeter to help communities amid coronavirus outbreak

A new support service has been launched in Exeter to help people through the coronavirus crisis.

Exeter Community Wellbeing aims to act as a ‘match-making’ initiative to aid residents affected by the outbreak –  like those self-isolating as a result of the virus.

It has been set up by Exeter City Council and Wellbeing Exeter.

At the same time, a £1million community action fund has also been unveiled by the city council and Exeter Chiefs Community Foundation.

This will enable community groups and organisations to get rapid access to small grants to allow them to work on local projects to support those people and communities most affected by the outbreak.

Councillor Phil Bialyk, leader of Exeter City Council, said: “It is really fantastic what is happening out there and that people are working to protect the community.

“People want to help and it is just marvellous that everyone is coming together.

“We have set up Exeter Community Wellbeing to assist individuals and community groups to help and support each other during this challenging time.

“There are already many great examples of people coming together to look out for each other.

“We want to nurture this and do all we can so that neighbourhoods have as much help as they need to look after each other and get help and support to those likely to need it most.

“This is a light touch ‘matching’ service linking people who need help with local people and groups who want to help.”

Council director Jo Yelland added that the service was being run like a ‘match-making’ service in which the authority would work to link-up groups and individuals able to and willing to offer help with those self-isolating or who are vulnerable.

A call centre has been set up and a website and telephone hotlines established to gather information from people and organisations who want to offer their help and support.

The service will be able to coordinate practical support for those being advised by the NHS to stay at home for 12 weeks and apart from their family.

Mrs Yelland added: “There have been a number of different offers of help and Exeter Community Wellbeing aims to nurture that offer of community help by coordinating and running a matchmaking service.

“The city council will coordinate information from organisations that want help and those who want to volunteer and we will link you up.

“We will be redeploying staff to be the friendly ear at the end of the phone and respond to the online forms.

“This is not about what to do if you are worried about symptoms, but if you are worried about people who are home alone and you cannot visit them, so someone could provide practical help and support and to make sure no-one falls between the gaps.”

She added: “There are existing community groups who are going to struggle to pay the bills and people are self isolating so some of the things that they do to generate an income will stop, so they is worry these groups may fold.

“The new grant will support the organisations in the short-term to manage cash flow and a small amount of money could make a massive difference to the local effort.”

Exeter Community Wellbeing wants to hear from:

  • Individuals, community groups or networks who would like to offer activities or support;
  • Community groups supporting people in relation to coronavirus who would like information, advice, resources or funding;
  • Community organisations offering staffing or other resources;
  • Individuals, families, organisations or companies offering help and resources;
  • Residents who would like practical support because they are self-isolating because of coronavirus;
  • Anyone caring for, or aware of, someone who would benefit from practical support because of coronavirus.

To get involved, a simple online form is available here.

Alternatively, call 01392 265000 between 9am and 5pm, Mondays to Fridays, and 9am and noon on Saturdays and Sundays.

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