REDDITCH-based Reach CIC has received a grant of £53,970 from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund.
The cash grant will enable the big hearted Winyates organisation to continue its work tackling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in Redditch and fund a new way of working post lockdown.
Reach CIC director Liz Williams said: “During lockdown we learnt a huge amount about the pressures people are under.
“Now we are looking at numerous ways to help like with family and parenting, dealing with domestic abuse, benefits advice and redundancy and we’re working with RSA Ipsley to look at how parents can understand a child’s school work.
“It’s also finding new ways to reach people, as many people who were isolated before lockdown are still isolated as lockdown eases.”
Reach CIC’s pandemic efforts started with the establishment of a coronavirus pandemic response in the first week of March.
Help came from Church Hill Big Local Partnership and by the week before lockdown it had spoken to the Disability Support Project, Emmanuel Church, Carers Careline, BARN, Redditch Baby Bank and the organisers of various Facebook groups and the Support Redditch Emergency Network was born.
Councillor Mike Rouse came on board and created the website, dashboard and other essentials to move away from trying to meet demand using spreadsheets.
An emergency number was donated by Reach phone supplier FourCom and from March 21 until June 14 just three people took 12,985 calls.
Rachel Ind and Shan Gawn from Reach with Chris Thomas from Church Hill Big Local ensured all the calls were logged and an amazing volunteers and organisations then fulfilled the requests coming in.
Rachel Ind – co-director of Reach said: “This was by far the largest community consultation we have ever been able to carry out, as a result the learning, insights and need that we identified, enabled us to write the successful bid.”
Once the Support Redditch Emergency Network was mothballed in June, Reach, Church Hill Big Local, Barn and Inspire Community training set up REST (Redditch East Stronger Together) Network with Ian Johnson of Church Hill Big Local doing the IT conversion work.
To date the team have answered another 2,619 calls.
The new focus is now on tackling the aftermath of lockdown and the impact of the economic downturn.
Wendy Johnson – chair of Church Hill Big Local said: “Even though lockdown is now ‘over’, it is imperative we look at how we can support the isolated and vulnerable people we identified and provide services to those who have lost their jobs, whose mental health has suffered and those who are now financially on the cliff edge.”