The Advantage Coast Community Led Local Development [CLLD] Programme is continuing to provide swift support to their participants during the COVID-19 pandemic and UK lockdown, adapting their services to fit social distancing measures, shielding the most vulnerable from the disease and safeguarding local businesses and employment.
Below are details of the work being carried out by some of the individual projects which are supported through the programme.
CaVCA’s project to support social enterprises is helping keep the profile of its participants’ organisations high with regular articles charting their progress during the lockdown period (https://cavca.org.uk/#socialenterprisenews). They are also offering help and advice to access funding and maintaining contact through regular calls and emails.
Yorkshire in Business’ Love Local project has discovered improved ways of working, which makes the team even more responsive to clients. They have continued to offer their business owners’ coffee meets using online tools, and provided people with an online tutorial of how to join in (https://www.facebook.com/YorkshireinBusiness/videos/2625383281067519/). They have also been very busy helping people understand how to access government grants and loans, as well as other sources of funding. They have experienced more demand for help with online trading and use of social media, and are offering support with business planning as the lockdown begins to ease.
The Scarborough Construction Business Network run by Northern Regeneration is staying in touch with clients by phone, email and video conferencing. They have been supporting businesses to understand and access the government’s furlough scheme, other government funding and Universal Credit where appropriate. In April they carried out an employer survey to identify the impact of COVID-19 on construction businesses, understand the sort of support they are looking for in future and any opportunities they can see as a result of the pandemic.
Northern Regeneration’s Build Up project is keeping in touch with participants and their parents to make sure they stay on track with their training and apprenticeships – offering one to one mentoring, CV and application support. They have set up an online application process for their new intake and are keeping people up to date with regular newsletters, Facebook posts and videos.
Activfirst’s Activ Business project, which focuses on the health and well being of employees of small businesses, has moved its programme of exercise classes online to maintain morale, physical and mental health during lockdown.
Activfirst’s Hub project is continuing to offer support to people in the Bridlington area looking for work (https://www.advantagecoast.org.uk/activfirst-COVID-19-response/). They are staying in regular contact by video and phone calls and texts. They are working closely with Job Centre Plus, and are preparing to receive a lot of new referrals as a result of job losses during the lockdown period. They have been offering additional support to vulnerable clients, helping with shopping and job searches. The Hub will be running virtual drop in sessions each Friday 1-3pm from Friday 15 May.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Brid Works project has seen staff redeployed to the COVID-19 response team. They have continued to support coastal residents with deliveries of medical and food supplies, and as lockdown begins to ease they are starting to make plans for how to work with participants in line with social distancing.
The Parents into Work project, also run by East Riding of Yorkshire Council has paused its normal activity but remains in touch with participants. The project has provided home learning and activity packs, and take and make packs for participants and their children. The plan is to restart the project fully in September 2020 or January 2021, depending on government guidance.
Pure Training Solutions have paused their Passport to Employment project. They are planning to restart in July or August 2020, with possible trials of new short courses in May or June. They will be conducting employer and learner surveys to understand local skills requirements. The team is expecting ICT skills support to be much in demand. They are developing shorter courses to encourage people to come into the training centre to complete learning once it is safe to do so, and expect to accommodate fewer learners in future.
aspire-igen’s Lone Parent projects in Bridlington and Scarborough have sent out activity packs for parents and children, and set up a Facebook group to help parents support each other. They are staying in touch with participants one to one by phone, text, email and video calls. They are supporting people to access distance learning to help keep them occupied and focused. They are also making a number of referrals to other organisations to help with mediation of disputes over access to children.
Age UK’s Over 50s Employment project is keeping participants informed of support available locally; staying in touch via phone, email and text; and liasing with local employers to make sure participants know what will happen to jobs they were about to start as the UK entered lockdown.
Scarborough Jobmatch has issued a number of tablets to vulnerable participants to help them stay in touch and support online learning. The team regularly contacts all participants, including those they have helped into work. They are finding the contact with participants is often mutually beneficial, sharing video tea breaks, photos of the local area and crafts people have been working on.
The Healthy Lives project in Bridlington, run by a mother and daughter team, has also found contact with participants can be mutually beneficial. One participant has even messaged to check they are both alright and have everything they need. The team is finding that many of their participants are missing the opportunity to socialise – they are staying in touch by email, phone and video conferencing. Delivering food parcels and children’s activity packs has provided some opportunity for socially distanced face to face contact. The project is now looking at how to restart operating on a face to face basis whilst complying with social distancing. They are also planning to increase the one to one support they offer to clients around ICT, specifically internet use, to help them stay in touch remotely more effectively in future.
The SPARKS project, which operates in Barrowcliff, Scarborough, continues to engage with all participants. Many are looking for support with their mental health and the team are compiling a bank of resources for the future as they recognise mental health difficulties such as anxiety are likely to be exascerbated by the current situation. Looking to the future the project started group video conferencing sessions with participants in mid-May. The team are working with the Gallows Close Centre to help deliver care packages, food parcels and craft packs; as well as delivering medication, supporting people to make Universal Credit claims and renew prescriptions.
The Street Based Youth Engagement project, run by Scarborough’s Sidewalk Youth, is working even more intensively than normal with participants to make sure they are coping in the current circumstances. The team is delivering home packs to young people to support their mental health. They run three or four remote group sessions a week, and engage individually with participants. Facebook messenger is used to work as a group on specific projects. These include a project to set up an indoor skate park, plus an online finger board competition! Steve Blower, the project lead, said, ‘we are creating spaces where young people can take control and responsibility.’ The project continues to offer support with CVs and college applications; and the team is planning for an influx of young people looking for support as a result of exam cancellations for this academic year.
Go4it’s Back on Track project was just getting started as the UK entered lockdown. The first cohort was already signed up, so the team has put in place alternative ways of working, as the project is largely aimed at tackling social isolation. There are regular virtual coffee mornings with participants to help them build relationships just as they might have face to face, and they are using Whatsapp to keep in touch. Again they are finding that participants’ digital skills are minimal, plus many do not have access to the kit they need to take part in video conferencing. Go4it have therefore made the decision to lend a number of laptops to their most isolated participants to help them keep in touch and do some online learning. The first course Back on Track has recommended to its participants is IT security. The project has also provided activity packs, including recipes and craft ideas. In future the project will work with smaller groups in order to maintain social distancing and initially focus on developing digital skills and an understanding of mental health.
Most projects are starting to think about the longer term impact of COVID-19 on their participants and how they can continue to offer support once a new normal has been established. There are some examples above, but this work will continue over the next few weeks and months. Some are likely to seek extensions to the period over which their projects will run. Others will refocus to make sure they are supplying the skills the economy needs most in the immediate future.