COVID19 – An update from Cllr Les Timbey, Leader, Stanley Town Council

A community isn’t just an area of land – a postcode or village, town, suburb or street. It’s people. It’s goodwill. It’s coming together to achieve a shared goal or offer support in a crisis.

It is all of these things and more and in the Stanley area we’re lucky to have such strong bonds that will see us through the current COVID pandemic and emerge a more robust, more united community.

In my last update, I focused on the outstanding work of PACT House, which has mobilised incredibly since the very beginning of this crisis.

I’m immensely proud of the work Stanley Town Council does to support this organisation, and that is also the case for two other of our town’s most important operations: SHAID and Just for Women.

For those who don’t know, and I’m certain there aren’t many, SHAID, or the Single Homeless Action Initiative in Durham, provides a range of housing advice, support and related services to help young people make the difficult transition to living independently in the community.

We have been lending SHAID our support for a number of years and it’s incredibly heartening to witness the many successes they have achieved. A huge amount of thanks must go to Kevin Howe and his dedicated team.

We continued to back them at the start of the lockdown so the organisation could continue services for the people who need them most.

Under immense pressure, SHAID has maintained all services over a seven day week. All of the organisation’s staff have risen to the challenge of meeting the needs of vulnerable people. Over the last 10-weeks, SHAID has:

  • Dealt with 26 homeless cases of all ages
  • Maintained ongoing support for over 60 vulnerable families
  • Continued to accept referrals into sheltered accommodation services while observing strict health and social distancing guidelines
  • Continues to work in partnership with local Councillors and Partner agencies including the Rough Sleepers Unit.

SHAID’s Plan 4 Life service continues to engage with young people in and around education and employment pathways, readying them for the eventual uplift of the lockdown, and even though we are all being incredibly reactive at the moment, the organisation remains proactive, exploring the gaps in its services and to provide even greater support.

An example of this is the “Face Shield Initiative” – SHAID has now issued over 150 of these shields to key workers across the Stanley area, giving individuals key workers, shop keepers, care homes, that little bit extra protection to do their jobs.

Just For Women is another organisation that has found itself very much on the front line.

As many of you will have read in the Northern Echo article, the centre received 276 messages in just one week recently, and warned of growing concerns that there will be a further spike in demand for its services to help people being threatened or attacked by partners when restrictions are lifted.

Based in the fantastic St Joseph’s House by Stanley Police Station, JFW has been putting together and distributing activity packs for vulnerable children to provide escapism and give them something to do during the lockdown.

Linda Kirk has reported a greater than expected demand for services, with a surge in reports of domestic violence since COVID19 brought the country to a standstill.

Sadly, it is expected that the surge will continue after the crisis, when women will flee abusive homes.

JFW has continued to man its helpline for anyone in need, as well as reaching out to help children and women by putting together craft packs. Staff and volunteers are also making up gift packs for the elderly and care workers.

In an incredible effort, over 2,000 packs have been created and distributed throughout the local community.

A firm believer in the restorative powers of being creative, Linda and her team distributing craft kits so women can participate in craft therapy at home, personal hygiene hampers so everyone has access to vital items necessary to maintain high levels of personal hygiene and gift hampers to the elderly community to remind them they have not been forgotten in these difficult times.

  • Anyone needing to get in touch with Just For Women, please call: 07395906647
  • To reach SHAID, call: 01207 238241

As always, stay home, stay safe and stay well.

Cllr Les Timbey
Leader
Stanley Town Council

Message from Stanley Town Council Leader

Message from Cllr Les Timbey, Leader, Stanley Town Council

For this week’s update, I’d like to firstly focus on one particular area of outstanding COVID response.

At the time of writing, PACT House has dealt with over 1,250 issues since opening it’s Coronavirus Crisis Hotline – this is an incredible effort and I thank Daren McMahon and his brilliant team of volunteers.

The assistance offered to people has ranged from things as seemingly trivial as posting letters, to supplying vital food packages to families where people have lost employment or emergency support for residents suffering health issues that have been forced into isolation.

It is incredible that by the end of this week, PACT House and the community partners it is working alongside in this emergency response effort, will have helped 2,000 individuals and families and the Stanley Area.

The area breakdown as things stand on 27 April:

  • PACT area: 1,250
  • Annfield Plain: 500+
  • Craghead: 120+
  • Quaking Houses: 50+

On relocating to Stanley Civic Hall, PACT House began operating a six-day a-week fresh food bank, cooked food was prepared on the premises and frozen into easily distributed cartons. The home-cooked “ready meals” have proved popular and it’s great to hear from Darren that recipients have been complementary on the quality of the stews and casseroles.

Crisis Packs have been provided to those in dire need. These consist of fresh and tinned goods, bread, eggs, toiletry and sanitary products. Volunteers are also shopping for people with specific needs and collecting and delivering prescriptions and medications.

Stanley Town Council and Durham County Council emergency COVID response funding has enabled PACT to re-stock its depleted food bank, helping it meet the increased needs of our community.

I must remind people – PACT House, and the organisations it works with across the area, is operated by volunteers. This team is organised, committed, passionate and community spirited…it is a team made up of amazing people who we owe an enormous debt of gratitude.

These volunteers pack food parcels, deliver meals and medication, call and chat to people in isolation. Just knowing this organisation is helping and help is just a phonecall away is easing people’s worries.

There is also a Facebook ‘PACTivites’, which has been created to support families with activities and fun stuff to do, while keeping adults engaged and in contact with each other.

PACT’s community radio station, available on www.dh9radio.com, broadcasts requests from people in isolation and shows are hosted from the foodbank and feature volunteers.

PACT House may have closed its doors, but it is using every communication platform for keep the virtual world’s doors open. It keeps people connected, lets them know they are not alone, and is a trusted touch-point for people through this crisis.

Foodbanks at Craghead Village Hall and Quaking Houses Village Hall are becoming increasingly essential, and PACT’s partnership with Annfield Plain Community Centre, which is also doing excellent work in their locality…hopefully more on this vital team soon.

Stay indoors, stay safe and stay well.

Cllr Les Timbey, Leader, Stanley Town Council

COVID-19 response, an update from Stanley Town Council

In the face of adversity, hope can be restored by the acts of others.

At Stanley Town Council our hopes and spirits have been lifted by the amazing response to the COVID-19 crisis across our communities, particularly from those organisations that deliver such important services to the people of our area.

We also hope the swift response of the Council, and the immediate delivery of our emergency support package, will inspire people and assure them that we are doing all we can to help during these unprecedented times.

To update you on progress, the emergency fund we created has already issued aid to the tune of £63,000 to help communities through the coronavirus crisis.

Having approved the package, we moved quickly to ensure funding was delivered to 22 organisations and community buildings in less than two weeks.

We understand how important this emergency funding is for some of our most essential community organisations, to enable them to keep their doors open and provide help and support when it is needed most.

The feedback we have had from these groups has been incredible, with many reporting that it has enabled them to keep running limited services for vulnerable people.

The 22 organisations receiving emergency support grants, ranging from £500 to £3,000 (PACT House and SHAID received more for services supplied to the area during the crisis):

  • Pact House
  • SHAID
  • Just for women
  • The Venue
  • Annfield Plain Community Centre
  • Annfield Plain Cricket Club
  • Beamish and East Stanley Cricket Club
  • Beamish Community Football Centre
  • Craghead Village Hall
  • Shield Row Gardens Community Room
  • The Haven – South Moor
  • The Activity Den
  • Stanley Indoor Bowls Club
  • St Stephens Centre
  • Oxhill Youth Club
  • Stanley Young Peoples Club
  • Tantobie Community Centre
  • Tanfield Lea and District Community Centre
  • Quaking Houses Village Hall
  • St Margaret’s Church Hall
  • While le Head Church Hall
  • South Moor Methodist

 

We allocated money immediately to the Just for Women Centre. Sadly, we are aware of the raised risk of domestic abuse during a period of lockdown. We wanted to help with the added workload facing the centre, long before the Government implemented its measures.

I can’t put into words how proud I have been of Stanley Town Council employees, who were quick to join the effort delivering emergency aid and providing help across the area.

I’d like to thank everyone at the Council who have worked so hard to create the emergency package and make sure it was distributed so quickly. All Council staff not directly involved with frontline COVID response, are working from home, following government guidelines. As much as possible, they ensure the continued running of the Council.

We have also made the Civic Hall a hub for COVID-19 response. It now houses the Venue’s foodbank, which had to close due to the age of its volunteers, categorised as “vulnerable”. The Civic is being used for deliveries of supplies and preparation of foodbank parcels. This is overseen by the brilliant PACT House team, which is also overseeing all distribution and monitoring calls to the emergency line and social media contact.

PACT House mobilised its army of volunteers to support communities. Partnering with Annfield Plain Community Centre, its crisis support plan has seen it distribute food, toiletries and ready-made meals from both sites. PACT has also opened a satellite foodbank at Craghead Village Hall.

By April 15, almost 550 people had accessed this support.

It is our duty and honour to take care of the people in our communities, to make sure they have food, medication and the help and support required. We assess the situation daily, with regular conference calls to discuss areas of need and agree immediate priorities.

Sadly, we all know only too well the impact this pandemic is having on our care homes, but I’d like to thank Cllr Carol Hampson, who has been in touch with every care home in the area to offer our support, thanks and prayers.

Stanley Town Council is working with a number of advice services, Durham County Council and a host of organisations in the voluntary sector to support our community.

The impact of COVID-19 has been horrific, but we will get through this. If it takes a month, three months or a year, we will emerge from this crisis a stronger, more resilient and more caring society.

Finally, I would like to reiterate our thanks – thank you to all partners, volunteers and community groups who are working so hard. Thank you to all care staff and key workers across the town. And thank you to our residents for isolating where they needed to, and respecting the rules on social distancing.

Our message, as it has been throughout this crisis, is stay home, stay safe and if you need help, we’re here for you.”

Key contact details:

 

PACT House is operating Fresh Foodbank / Crisis Support Packs:

  • Monday to Friday 10.00am to 4.00pm and Saturday 11.30am to 1.30pm Fresh food from Fareshare and Daily Donations, Food Parcels / Crisis Packs
  • Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10.00am to 12.00noon PACT Volunteers operate the Durham Christian Partnership Foodbank for people with referral vouchers.

Other services:

Crisis Food/Toiletry Packs, Frozen Meal Delivery, Shopping and delivery, collecting prescriptions, posting mail / carry out errands.

Receive a friendly phone call, signpost and referral to agencies as required via AICD Hubs.

A message from The Leader on COVID-19

A message from Stanley Town Council Leader, Les Timbey:

These are unprecedented times.

As the situation with Coronavirus unfolds across the world, we face a crisis of unparalleled proportions and one that we all hope we will never have to overcome again as a global community.

And while we keep a concerned eye on the worldwide situation, it is beholden on us to look more local in our response.

Stanley is a town that has had to prove its resilience time and time again. Our communities are adept at coming together to support each other. Offering kindness, care and working together to pull us through. It is these values, that we live by, that will help us in this uncertain time, emerging stronger and closer-knit than we’ve ever been.

Stanley Town Council must now show leadership and offer a calm, measured and assured response. We have to ensure our response is swift, decisive and helps those that we serve – our residents – as best as we possibly can during what is a fast-changing situation.

We need to innovate and find new ways of delivering support to people and organisations who need it most in and around Stanley. And I hope that tonight, we will come together as a council and agree clear priorities and an immediate course of action.

Today we approved a £63,000 emergency support package to ensure our community facilities can keep their doors open and continue to to deliver the vital services they help provide.

In total, 23 buildings and organisations will be assisted with this fund, helping people across Stanley and the surrounding areas.

The Stanley Town Council workforce has also agreed to help the voluntary groups effected by COVID 19. I’m immensely proud and grateful that our employees are volunteering to assist these groups. To them, I say thank you on behalf of myself and the Town Council. We will not forget your dedication.

 

The health and wellbeing of our residents is paramount.

We must support our friends at PACT House to deliver food, support and resources to our most vulnerable residents and also those who have been hit with a drop-off in work due to quarantine procedures. We must prioritise funding for our community buildings, so they can stay open and help the people who rely on them. We must use our own human resources and utilise our workforce to help those who can’t help themselves.

We are a caring Council and it is incumbent upon us to act immediately.

We will protect our most vulnerable and at-risk families. We will support them through this worrying time.

We will disseminate Government and health professionals’ advice – wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and please, follow guidance on self-isolation.

 

We will work with partners to deliver the best care we can in Stanley.

Our town has a small army of amazing volunteers and groups that have already mobilised. As I said, we must support them as a council. Our partners do fantastic work year-round, but during times like this, their dedication and endeavour really does shine through and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude for all they are doing.

As such, we will be re-purposing enhanced, emergency support for them.

 

For many businesses, this is a worrying and uncertain time too.

The Government has promised support for companies that may be under strain as a result of this pandemic. We must press them to act, and lend our voice to that of Durham County Council calling for support to be delivered as quickly and effectively as possible.

 

Frontline services are showing incredible resilience and pulling together to ensure that things continue to run as smoothly as possible during this time.

We must look at new ways of dispersing our team to ensure that they deliver help it’s needed most.

Crises like this highlight the real heroes in our community – health and hospital staff, care workers, shop workers, who carry on delivering warm, empathetic support when I am sure their instinct is to stay close to their family. On behalf of Stanley Town Council, I extend our thanks to everyone pulling together to support our residents.

Everyone is worried. Be assured that will do everything we possibly can to keep our residents safe, to keep them informed, and to minimise disruption to services.

I also call on this Government to help sole traders and the self employed as a priority, and increase statutory sick pay to an acceptable level.

We face a challenge like never before. But we’ll get through this by working together, supporting each other and stepping up to all challenges that lie ahead – as a council we will do everything we possibly can to ensure Stanley and our communities come through this in the strongest possible position.

Stay inside, stay safe, stay well and look after each other.

Council launches local response as COVID-crisis deepens

AN emergency meeting of Stanley Town Council last night green-lit a £63,000 coronavirus response programme to help communities through the crisis.

Councillors approved the package at a meeting specially-convened to agree what support was required and where it was most urgently needed.

The emergency measures will ensure that 23 organisations and community buildings, such as PACT House, Single Homeless Action Initiative in Durham (SHAID) and Just for Women, to name but a few, can not only keep their services running, but also enhance some areas of provision to support COVID 19 response efforts.

The measures put forward by Council Leader, Les Timbey, also include re-prioritising Stanley Town Council’s employees to deliver emergency aid and provide help at some of the facilities supported by the emergency response package.

Cllr Timbey said: “We find ourselves in unprecedented times and, as such, we must take unprecedented action.

“The measures outlined will come into force immediately and provide direct support to the people of Stanley. It is our duty to take care of the people in our communities, to make sure they have food, medication and the help and support required.

“In Stanley, we’re fortunate to have a range of organisations that deliver key services to some of the most vulnerable people in our society and by looking after them with this financial and physical support, we’re helping them look after others.

“COVID 19 has brought the world to a standstill, but one thing remains certain – we will get through this. It might take a month, three months or a year, but we will emerge from this crisis a stronger, smarter and more caring society.”

In total, 23 organisations are in-line for support grants, ranging from £500 to £3,000. The comprehensive list of buildings receiving the funds covers the entire Stanley Town Council area.

Among the organisations receiving support via the £64,000 response fund, are:

  • PACT House
  • SHAID
  • Just for Women
  • The Venue
  • Annfield Plain and Catchgate Partnership
  • Annfield Plain Community Centre
  • Shield Row Community Hut
  • Tantobie Community Centre
  • Quaking Houses Village Hall

 

Cllr Carl Marshall said the funds are aimed at bolstering front line resilience as the fight against the coronavirus continues.

He said: “What we have done is agree to target our key community anchors and venues with support that enables them to keep the lights on while their services are required. As Les said, we help them, they help others and that is how we will get through this pandemic, by helping each other out.

“I am immensely proud of the way our local people and organisations have already mobilised to help our town and surrounding areas, but more must be done and we must not tire in our efforts to make sure every single member of our communities receives the help and contact they need.

“Stanley Town Council employees will be delivering food and prescriptions, helping co-ordinate volunteers, operating a helpline (07720 650 533), and helping with loneliness and isolation.

“Our message to residents is stay home, stay safe and if you need help, we’re here for you.”

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

To ensure you have access to up to date guidance from local and central government, Stanley Town Council has compiled links to the below websites.

Each website is regularly updated and offers help and information for people impacted by COVID-19 itself, or by the current self-isolation period in place.

For all COVID-19 support information, please visit:

Or for more specific support visit:

Stay safe, stay indoors and together we will get through this.

Full Council Meeting 24th March 2020

The Council will be holding a meeting next Tuesday in order to put in place emergency arrangements to allow the Council to function and take steps to support the community through the challenges we are facing.

The agenda is linked below.

‘-Full Council Agenda 24th March 2020

The Council is legally obliged to admit the public to its meetings, however in the current conditions we urge members of the public not to attend this meeting. We have taken steps to ensure that the legal minimum number of Councillors attend to make a legal decision and the minimum number of staff.

We will report fully the decisions taken immediately after the meeting. Please follow the Government’s guidance on social distancing and avoiding unneccesary contact with people, .

Notice of Annual Town Meeting

The Annual Meeting of electors will take place on Tuesday 17th March 2019 at the Venue, Tyne Road, Stanley. There will be tea and coffee served from 6pm for a 6.30 pm start.

Local community groups and organisations have been invited share details of the services they provide and details of the support they have received from the Town Council over the past year

The Annual meeting is an opportunity for all electors of the parish of Stanley to raise issues and ask questions about any matters relating to the Town. The Council will also give an overview of the work it has done in the last year and our plans for next year.