COVID-19 - Garnsychan Partnership

BLOG: 02.06.2020 Kate Burton, Garnsychan Partnership Manager. 'The COVID-19 crisis has created the perfect storm for many charities like the Garnsychan Partnership.

The good news is despite the temporary closure of the Circulate Recycling Shops, we are helping more vulnerable people in our community than we have ever done before. Our food parcel support, prescription delivery service in partnership with Abersychan Pharmacy and the friendly phone call service have seen people who are affected by this terrible pandemic needing us more now than ever. The bad news is that the money we use to deliver these services and with the shop closures has dried up almost overnight.

The COVID-19 emergency has created a massive challenge for the Garnsychan Partnership to ensure that we are able to continue to support people in our ward. In the 6 years of me working at the Charity, I have never known a year like it. In all of the highs and lows during these years, it has never been this tough. The NHS and health care provisions and all the other essential workers (who I have the pleasure of working with many on a daily basis) are doing an amazing job with the Coronavirus crisis. My weekly Thursday routine of an 8pm Clap, just doesn't seem enough!

The Garnsychan Partnership is playing a very small part in the battle of Coronavirus. It’s humbling to know that some of the our support services are seeing a real impact on those elderly (especially) who are shielding or self isolating and the feedback and letters of thanks makes all of the hard work worthwhile. Many of our team have had to be furloughed and others redeployed which means we are a skeleton workforce currently working at a high demand. I want to give thanks to Torfaen County Borough Council who have been instrumental in supporting us through food donations and Ceri and Trina from the Communities for Work team who carry out shopping for us twice weekly to keep the food parcels well stocked. But mostly to our wonderful duo at Garnsychan Partnership, Gary and Paul; they have been instrumental in coordinating and delivering these essential services, to taking the calls, collating data, delivery food and prescriptions (often on foot). They are TRULY AMAZING!!! And finally, the board of Trustees; they have been amazing support, guiding me and the charity through these very uncertain times. The board bring a wealth of knowledge and experience and I have certainly had to tap into those resources more now than ever. The board members are all volunteers and work tirelessly to help me lead the organisation. So, thank you!

Every day, we are hearing from some of the 3000 people we have supported during Covid-19 who are frightened, scared and unsure how to interpret the advice from the Government and uncertain how much the information on social media can be trusted. Residents who have had treatment delayed, are struggling to find out about their treatment options, people are struggling with isolation and anxiety while shielding at home all need trusted information and advice.

So people are turning to us. We have never experienced anything like this before. This is not going to go anywhere, anytime soon, and neither are we. We have seen a substantial increase in numbers of people contacting us for advice and support over these last 12 weeks, so much so the data we have collated really shows the need and importance of our work here at Garnsychan Partnership and I am proud that our Charity is here to carry out these vital services.

But while one tap has been turned on to full, the other has been turned off. With Circulate Recycling closed we (apart from a local authority grant) receive no other external funding or income. Lockdown stopped our most successful trading months of the year almost overnight.

There is approx £750 million of government support. There are a huge number of charities competing for the same pot so the reality is it’s unlikely to make enough of a difference to every charity that needs help right now. That said, down to some hard slog, I have been successful in awarding the charity some short term funding to help cashflow from a variety of organisations. Thank you to TVA, Moondance Foundation, The National Lottery and Community Foundation Wales your funds are allowing us to continue providing essential services during very unprecedented times. However, this wont last long, so the funding application writing does not stop there. It is ever important that we find new ways of working to re-open our Furniture Recycling project for the longer term sustainability of Garnsychan Partnership but also to continue to support our service users who need access to affordable household items.

The unprecedented number of people turning to the Garnsychan Partnership means we can’t dial down our support anytime soon. And when the world returns to normal our residents will still need us if not more. So while we are in a serious situation, we are planning to tough this out so we will still be here for our residents, now, next year and beyond.

Once again, thank you to all our partners, staff and volunteers. You are all hero's! '

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