A new report has praised grassroots community groups in Leeds for the vital support they have provided for older people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report, jointly compiled by the Centre for Ageing Better charitable foundation and Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, highlights how Leeds Neighbourhood Networks have acted as a lifeline for older people in the city over the last nine months.
Funded by Leeds City Council and Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, the Leeds Neighbourhood Networks are a group of 34 voluntary organisations that cover every part of the city, delivering services designed to help older people live independent lives and play active parts in their local communities.
The Centre for Ageing Better report says the value of these organisations has been underlined by their important role in the city-wide response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The report also says the pandemic has illustrated the need for national government to give councils the “adequate and flexible” funding required to sustain initiatives such as the Leeds Neighbourhood Networks.
Despite the financial pressures caused by COVID-19, Leeds City Council is bringing forward proposals which will protect funding for the groups next year, allowing them to continue their vital work supporting older people’s physical, mental and social wellbeing at this difficult time.
Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Leeds City Council’s executive member for health, wellbeing and adults, said:
“The Leeds Neighbourhood Networks are a long-term success story for our city, so it’s heartening to see the work done by staff and volunteers being recognised in this way.
“Protecting and supporting older people has been a priority for the council throughout the pandemic and the tireless efforts of all those involved with the neighbourhood groups have contributed enormously to that.
“Their local knowledge and community contacts mean they have been perfectly placed to reach out and help our older residents cope with the difficulties that this year has brought.”
Anna Dixon, Centre for Ageing Better chief executive, said:
“The coronavirus has highlighted how important local support networks are, especially in times of crisis, and the vital role that trusted community organisations play in supporting people at risk.
“The Leeds Neighbourhood Networks are an excellent example of how councils and community organisations can work together to meet the needs of their communities. Their work demonstrates the value of investing in community infrastructure so it is there when it’s really needed.”
The ‘key findings’ section of the report shows that the Leeds Neighbourhood Networks were able to respond quickly to the challenges posed by lockdown and other COVID-19 restrictions, assisting vulnerable and isolated older people by doing everything from shopping to organising hot meal deliveries and picking up medicine.
Then, after the first national lockdown began to ease over the summer, they created opportunities for older people to enjoy more face-to-face contact while following social distancing rules. Notable examples of the work carried out during this period included the relaunch of an allotment project and the setting up of a mobile library service.
Elsewhere in the report, there is a focus on the willingness of the Leeds Neighbourhood Networks to adapt to changing circumstances, with some becoming community care hubs responsible for the co-ordination of voluntary action in their area. There have also been productive link-ups with private sector companies, including supermarkets, pubs, cafes and takeaways.
There is praise for the practicality of the council’s Leeds Neighbourhood Networks funding model and how it has allowed the groups to tailor their work to the specific requirements of their patch during the pandemic.
The report concludes: “National government needs to provide adequate and flexible funding for local authorities and other local commissioners to develop and sustain social and community infrastructure such as [the Leeds Neighbourhood Networks]. Ringfencing small proportions of physical infrastructure investments, such as that of the proposed national infrastructure bank, to be spent on community infrastructure is one way to achieve this.”
For anyone who didn’t know Caring Together is a Neighbourhood Network Scheme. For more information about the Neighbourhood Network Schemes across Leeds, including a full list and an interactive map showing the scheme for each area visit https://www.opforum.org.uk/nns/
They have some Treemendous 💚🌳resources information packs and tree identification cards you can download from the Arium website.
If your interested in attending tree planting events, please contact the Woodland Creation Team at email@example.com to register has a volunteer and book a place on one of our future events, which will be taking place between December and February
Countryside Ranger Team 🦉😀👍
Caring Together has an allotment, complete with raised beds and a shed on Woodhouse Moor.
We would love to hear from members who might like to take part in looking after this allotment.
This would be a good way of getting some outdoors, socially distanced, exercise as well as a source of fresh, healthy produce and gardening also helps to relieve stress – so a positive result all round!
If you are green fingered and would like to take part, or if you are not at all green fingered but enthusiastic anyway, then contact us.
I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who was able to spend an hour with us last week at our virtual afternoon tea. Some of you made some amazing snacks and cakes, I think Hilary is still waiting for a slice of cake Shirley. I even put some lippy on, a very rare event I assure you. It was so lovely to spend this time with you all.
I have attached a picture of us all on zoom 🙂 including a picture of a delightful afternoon tea hamper with tasty goodies that Sylvia won and received the next day. And another thanks goes to Viv and Abigail for your joyous singing, a light relief indeed. And to Sylvia who led the way in singing ‘Happy Birthday’ over the airwaves to Clarita, who recently turned 90, and again to us all; for all Birthday’s missed, and yet to happen. This included Caring Together’s 25th. Also our gracious thanks go to Hilary too, and to family who helped with getting some of you on zoom, and finally to Maureen for sharing yet more of her memories – I have attached a special audio recording below of Maureen’s “A Summer Childhood” story below for those who could not join us, all the best Lisa Argyle
Just press play.
Day 99 – The weather for eating a ’99’ ice cream here too. Who named it the ’99’? I suppose I should have investigated a long time ago as they seem to have been around for most of my life. Were there 99 flakes to a box at one time? There certainly aren’t now and why is it that the ice cream vendors’ flakes, when added to the cone don’t disintegrate – yet mine always end up a crumbly mess before reaching the ice cream?
The ’99 Steps’ which ran between Burley Road and Belle Vue Road, I believe, were something I took the locals’ word for in the accuracy of numbering. I hadn’t the desire to walk up or down them but today most of them have disappeared to make way for housing or offices. I wonder if the ’99p’ shops have all disappeared now? There weren’t many around and frankly for the sake of one penny it was more convenient to visit ‘Poundland’ and besides, I doubt whether shops will allow a bag of 1p coins for change in future.
99 days since I went into Lockdown, although the official day stands at 94. Students have been flocking back to the City over the last couple of weeks in readiness for the changeover of rentals on the 1st July. Parties, late night drinking, walking around in large groups and as for the Parks……I cannot begin to imagine the litter which will have been discarded on Woodhouse Moor by last night, judging by the queue for drinks outside the ‘One Stop’ shop. It’s as though nothing has changed which of course is far from the truth as daily life has changed so much, well it has for me.
Yesterday at 3pm the local Community Group “Caring Together” enjoyed ‘Afternoon Tea’ by Zoom and we dressed accordingly for the occasion! Over hot and cold drinks, scones and cake we chatted and were entertained with a couple of songs; I read one of my stories “A Summer Childhood”, Our Patron Hilary Benn MP joined us from his office at the House of Commons, telling us all how he has dealt with changes since Lockdown. We of course were all in our living rooms and kitchens. I was sitting in my ‘office’ – the kitchen, but as I was wearing a floaty top with pearl accessories, decided to sit against a plain grey wall rather than the paler shade tiles with a view of the microwave and steamer.
The local PCSO was outside Little London Community Centre – but suddenly disappeared from our gallery so must have been called into action. Hilary Benn apologised in advance, warning he was waiting to Vote and said he would have to leave upon hearing the bell but – staying with us throughout – there was clearly no urgency to Vote on ‘whatever’. I just hope the Government are not proposing to change the name of the ’99’ ice cream cone.
Thank you Maureen, I have checked the Cadbury’s website and they can’t find a reason behind it either, I wonder if anyone else can? Until next time……
This week was volunteers week. And at Caring Together we celebrate this event every year for volunteers and helpers. We recognise everyone’s offers of help and supportive gestures in whatever way it is given, this can even be from our regular dedicated volunteers, to ad hoc offers of help from members, and their family and friends and our supporters too. It all matters a great deal.
Over the last year your acts of kindness have benefited so many. From regular befriending visits, phone calls, letters to helping in groups, money box making and counting, sharing musical talents and written creativity, tending to the allotment, baking and making things, passing on and sharing skills together, tombollas, Unity day, Little London Community Day, helping at other events, day trips and outings, catering, fundraising, marketing, trustees, delivering our newsletters and so on. Phew!
And the lockdown did not squash your thoughtfulness, it just meant for some it shifted slightly for which we are truly grateful. To you and the countless others in the community who have, and continue to give so much, we say a huge thank you to you all.
On a final note we did have something special planned this year with it being our ’25th Year’ yet this will have to wait. We can still celebrate together the amazing support of all our Caring Together’s volunteers and helpers, past and present. And everyone else in the community doing their bit.
Members and volunteers from the Univeristy of Leeds enjoying a sing a long last year before the lockdown
Homemade Marmalade sitting alongside our second batch of homemade Jam
Volunteers at Unity Day last year – huge team effort
Pat and Joyce helping in the office prior to the lockdown. And one of our volunteers bringing the newsletter together just recently in the sun. Myrna is also making use of some of the home made jam and marmalade. She is baking buns and cakes which she will be distributing to her neighbours. Some of whom work in the NHS and some are shielding.
Crochet and Sewing Skills Share – this was a team effort, just before the lockdown, led by Felina, Viv and Sylvia who kindly helped a group of us rekindle chrochet skills and for some learn how to crochet. I recently picked up one of the blankets from Felina who lovingly finished it off. We made two blankets. The one Felina is holding was for one of our members in the next picture.
.Happy 90th Birthday Clarita for this weekend. She was thrilled with her gift, yet not so much with my singing and birthday jig….
Thank you to you all for ‘Caring Together’
As part of the ‘Nature Revealed: Making the Invisible Visible’ project, Caring Together will be working alongside the University of Leeds, Schools, other organisations and various artists which involves coming together at intervals in the year using creative techniques to explore the natural world of migrational and nocturnal birds, hedgehogs and bats etc.
For the past few weeks, at Little London Community Centre, this has involved making lanterns which will culminate in them being used as part of Light Night in October 2020.