We understand that COVID-19 is impacting on many of the groups funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, but we are also very proud of how those we fund in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors are adapting their services to support and help their communities.
We are focusing on three of such groups that are continuing to operate and keep people connected be that preparing food parcels for key workers, redesigning their websites to include dedicated sections on COVID-19, or even running 1-1 sessions via text messages. You can read our first blog on Men’s Sheds Cymru here.
In this blog we are focusing on Dynamic Wrexham. They are a North Wales-based charity that provides out-of-school activities and a holiday programme for children and young people with disabilities aged 8 -19 years and a transition project for young people aged 15-25 years. All children and young people have a range of disabilities from physical, intellectual or sensory impairments, to life-limiting illnesses. We spoke to Laura Williams – Charity Manager and Clare Barnes – Dynamic Futures Project Coordinator.
Laura told us: “We made an early decision to pause our front-facing services at the charity to focus solely on the wellbeing of the children, young people along with staff, volunteers and their families as we work with people in the most vulnerable groups. This was welcomed by young people and their parents and carers.”
“We’re maintaining contact with all young people on the project and it has been really well received. Initial contact was to explain the situation and to be a sounding board as the majority of young people due to their disabilities and conditions do not react well to change and their lives unfortunately changed quickly and dramatically but young people have continued to take the lead in the sessions, determining the method or methods of communication whether that’s through email, Face Time, video chat, text, phone calls, etc.”
Clare told us: “The sessions we run take place two or three times a week for up to an hour each depending on the young person’s needs. We always start with a welfare check, talk about worries they may have, encourage them of positive strategies for coping with any issues and discuss how best to communicate with friends or family they are struggling with not seeing regularly. We’ve adapted the sessions that would normally take place face-to-face through the medium that young people are most comfortable with. Despite the challenges, it’s given us the opportunity to adapt how we deliver sessions long-term.
“Young people have told us that they needed some fun distractions so we’ve piloted weekly eMag – Friday Dynamic Times. It includes fun facts, jokes, activities and articles regarding keeping healthy and positive mental health, all based on young people’s suggestions. The young people have been encouraged to send staff items for future magazines and feedback to date has been positive regarding this. We’re also in the process of setting up a new dedicated part of our website where we can host similar activities, and we will look to grow this into something that brings people together with more group interactivity.
“We’re in contact with local youth service who are setting up a local social history piece of work where young people can use different platforms to record their experiences during the COVID-19 struggles that, once collated, will be given to our local museum and is a great way to get our young voices heard.”
“What we’ve found is that parents/carers are also feeling vulnerable and worried. To address this gap, I’m making weekly phone calls to them and this has been well received as many of them are lone parents who are struggling with not having another adult to talk to. The sessions are providing an opportunity for them to offload, to be signposted to additional support services, and to talk about any support they are able to give their child.
“We’ve also created a closed Facebook page for parents/carers that’s moderated by staff. It’s providing peer-networking opportunities for people to come together to support each other. They do want to be kept up-to-date with ‘real’ and ‘reliable’ news and facts as most are finding social media and news channels overwhelming. We’re also setting up a section of the website dedicated to COVID-19 for resources from health boards that people can use to support themselves and their family.
Laura told us: “Young people are likely to need more support over the next few months; not less, and it’s important that we have the framework in place to account for growing demand. The team will need to be both proactive to anticipate need along with being reactive to accommodate the constant evolving situation. I think, so far our team have been excellent at doing this given the feedback we’ve had.
“One family told us, “Cannot express enough how much the phone calls to my son on a weekly basis is helping him on these uncertain days. The change is having a massive impact on him, (like everyone) the lack of routine and normality is immensely challenging for him, but these phone calls put a bit of ease back into his life. We just want to thank all the staff at Dynamic for going above and beyond.”
“We are Dynamic and as such we will continue to be dynamic in our approach to make sure every family that needs support, we are there for! This is how we will help them to weather the storm, by being there for them and listening, adapting, changing and delivering.”
You can find out more about Dynamic Wrexham by visiting their website.
You can find out more about how The National Lottery Community Fund is responding to COVID-19 by visiting our website.
You can also apply for National Lottery funding here.