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