A support service has been recognised for supporting people during recent challenging times, with a Community Stars Award.
Tavistock Locals Help was pulled together in a matter of days by a small group of local people, including Ursula Mann, Steve Hipsey, Andy and Sue Hutton.
As the pandemic took hold, the band of volunteers recognised support would be needed for members of the community who were required to self-isolate and were struggling to access delivery services whilst the country was in lockdown.
A week of zoom meetings and telephone calls resulted in a structured organisation complete with switch board, Zen data system and a funding collective, plus a group of over 150 volunteers.
The scheme was set up to cover shopping, the collection and delivery of prescriptions and, with the help of Mount Kelly school, the redistribution of unwanted government food boxes, dog walking and the odd DIY project also played a part.
Tavistock Locals Help and the Trust that grew out of it, were recognised as one of two group winners in our latest Community Stars Award. This is a quarterly award which was set up to recognise extraordinary acts of kindness since the pandemic.
Live West particularly valued TLH as it helped direct people who became more vulnerable during the pandemic to further support services.
Tavistock Locals Help Trust Secretary, Sarah Cooper, said: “The whole community pulled together. There were volunteers of every age; people on furlough or working from home, the retired, and front-line workers shoehorning in support during their time off.
“TLH brought neighbours together and strong friendships were forged between volunteers and the people they helped, many of whom were experiencing extreme anxiety and loneliness.
“The system was very efficient and worked really well due to the superb leadership of Ursula Mann. But the whole team worked very hard – the coordinators and switch board volunteers were on the phones every day, seven days a week and the volunteers on the ground stepped up to the mark whatever the time or weather, without complaint and were always cheerful.
“We even had a volunteer magazine publication, ‘Helping Hands’, created by the wonderful John Powell and Peter Squire, which put together interviews and stories from the community about life during lockdown.”
At Christmas, when everything shut down again, Tavistock Locals Help worked with the Rotary Club to put together a Christmas package. This consisted of a goody bag, a hot Christmas lunch cooked by Lisa Credicott and her team at Blue Skies catering, and a Boxing Day pack of cold foods.
It was delivered to elderly and vulnerable people who were not able to meet up with their families or local groups due to lockdown.
As lockdown came to an end, it was recognised that the effects of the pandemic were going to have a long-term impact on many people, particularly those affected by lost incomes and financial hardship.
A small group of volunteers from TLH set up the Tavistock Locals Help Trust, a charitable trust which offers grants of up to £500 to help local people manage unexpected financial crises due to the pandemic.
The Trust also works alongside other organisations such as the Food Bank and the Tavy Community Fridge to make sure people can access emergency food supplies. Tavistock Citizens Advice supports the Trust by providing a referral service.
The Trust recognises the extra strain some people will be under now that Universal Credit has been reduced and the furlough system has finished.
Sarah Cooper said: “We greatly appreciate this award and the contribution to our funding. The TLH Trust will continue to provide support while it is needed.
“Over the last eleven months, we have helped a number of people with emergency supplies, replacement of essential household equipment, carpeting and transport. We hope that as time passes the impact of the pandemic will fade, people will get back on their feet and we will no longer be needed.
“But if you do need help, please see our website www.tlhtrust.org for information about the grants we offer. Application details are provided, or you can contact Citizens Advice who will make a referral on your behalf.
“The TLH service was an astonishing effort and a huge thanks must go to all those who made it work!”
Both Tavistock Locals Help and the TLH Trust which grew out of it have been praised for the contribution they have made to their community.
Community Connector, Alison Knight, said: “Tavistock Locals Help volunteers were dedicated, organised and were completely reliable throughout the lockdown. They supported several LiveWest residents from our General Needs and our two sheltered schemes.
“We relied on this service for some of our residents, so it was helpful for us to be able to reassure people. It is great to be able to support this amazing project as what they provide has benefited our residents when they’re in need.
“I’m pleased this award has recognised the work that has been going on in the community.”
If you would like to nominate a Community Star for the next round of awards, please head to: www.livewest.co.uk/form/community-stars-competition