Volunteer groups supporting their communities through the coronavirus pandemic have been praised after it was revealed that only a small number of people have been signposted through Shropshire Council’s help network.
Five community reassurance teams (CRTs) were set up by the council in March, with 37 staff working alongside town and parish councils, volunteers and community groups to co-ordinate support for people in need.
A report published ahead of a scrutiny committee meeting on Wednesday reveals that just 126 referrals had been made through the CRTs up to May 11.
The report by overview and scrutiny officer Danial Webb says: “The teams want to work with communities to complement and enhance the amazing work already happening to ensure that everyone gets the help and support that they need to stay at home, and stay well and healthy.
“The CRTs are a local point of contact for groups, local councils and Shropshire Council members, and will be able to help with calls for support from them that are coming forward, as well as ensuring the delivery of the things we are being asked to do by central government.
“This will include promotion of, and assistance with, the small grants programme for local groups.”
The teams have delivered food parcels to 875 households, reaching 1,730 people, and created a database of 631 volunteer groups and businesses.
The report says 148 discussions with groups and individuals have been logged, resulting in 126 referrals for things like food, welfare checks, medicine and befriending.
It adds: “This is remarkably low and demonstrates the resilience of the local population and the effectiveness of the community offer.”
To support community groups with their valuable work during the crisis, the council has set up a £75,000 small grants scheme, with grants of up to £500 available. The report says 39 organisations have so far successfully applied for this funding.
The report will be considered by the council’s Performance Management Scrutiny Committee at a remote meeting on Wednesday.