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Fantastic £100k lottery success for Tamworth’s volunteer army

The work of Tamworth’s amazing army of volunteers has been boosted by a National Lottery grant of almost £100,000 which will be used to provide even more services to help the town’s residents as we continue to tackle the impact of coronavirus.

The bid to the National Lottery Community Fund was led by Tamworth Community Together CIC, supported by Tamworth Borough Council which funded the application process. It was submitted on behalf of the new Tamworth Isolation Support Group which was set up to bring a range of organisations together in the response to Covid-19.

As a partnership application, this will see funding being allocated to various local charities to further their vital work in the community.

It will help fund a whole host of support and activities, across areas such as mental health and wellbeing, isolation, bereavement, food poverty, homelessness, debt advice, learning and skills, training for volunteers and much more.

This includes a meals on wheels service, staff for the food bank, money to furnish 10 homes for people who have been made homeless or are fleeing domestic abuse, wellbeing courses, additional room hire, materials and equipment to enable support groups to continue to operate in line with social distancing and IT equipment and tutorials to help people with digital learning.

It will also fund the continuation of the extremely successful helpline and befriending service which has been a lifeline for hundreds of people during the lockdown and shielding phases of the pandemic.

This helpline, staffed by Tamworth Borough Council employees and volunteers, was the hub for the Covid-19 response, set up to support those vulnerable and isolated people who may not have been included in national shielding schemes, but who still needed support to stay at home.

Since it began just over three months ago, the helpline has fielded more than 2,000 calls, accepted more than 250 requests for befriending, delivered more than 800 emergency food parcels, recruited 79 new volunteers and signposted hundreds of people to the relevant organisations which could help them in other ways.

The joint funding bid enables this partnership approach to voluntary services in Tamworth to continue.

Lee Bates, of Tamworth’s Community Together CIC, which runs a range of services across the town from its hub at the Activity Centre in the Castle Grounds, said: “We are absolutely over the moon to have been successful in our bid to the National Lottery. We have been granted the full amount we asked for and this is going to continue to make a huge difference to the Tamworth volunteer response.

“The Tamworth Isolation Support Group partnership, instigated by Cllr Paul Brindley, saw a number of organisations coming together with Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council to form a third sector response to Covid. It’s been hugely successful and effective to have us all working together and we’ve been able to support hundreds of people.

“The helpline at the centre of that has enabled us to get people whatever help they need, whether that was food deliveries, help with housing, benefits advice or simply someone to talk to. When the Covid Lottery funding was made available to support charities, we decided to bid for the entire partnership which made it a really strong application. This recognises the value in coming together and keeps the partnership moving forward.

“We’ve secured funding that will be delivered by nine different organisations and will pay for activities that will be vital for the most vulnerable in our community as we continue to deal with the fall-out from the pandemic.

“The key thing about this partnership is the trust element. We have a great relationship with the borough and county councils which provide strategic direction and guidance and then trust us to deliver services to the community. We already had those relationships in place which really helped mobilise the community coronavirus response and the funding application.”

Cllr Paul Brindley, who set up Tamworth Self Isolation Support Group, said: “We are really thankful for this grant and look forward to putting it to good use in the community.

“The work we have been carrying out with partners has been phenomenal and we have established a really good partnership model which has been widely appreciated across the region.

“The Lottery funding enables us to enter phase two of this, which will see the Tamworth Self Isolation Support Group evolve into The Hive Foundation. The fall-out of the pandemic is going to have a lasting impact on the community in many ways, and thanks to this partnership and the funding, we will be able to be very dynamic in responding to the need.

“This is joyous news and we look forward to this next phase.”

Cllr Michelle Cook, Cabinet member for Housing and Communities, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news for Tamworth, congratulations to everyone involved in securing this significant amount of funding. The Tamworth volunteer response to coronavirus has been nothing short of amazing and as a council, we are very lucky to have the support of such an effective third sector.

“We can now take this partnership approach forward even further to build on the great work that has taken place. It’s also encouraging to see that the Lottery grant includes training for the new volunteers who have been recruited, which really helps future proof services, as well as providing new skills. Fantastic work all round.”

The National Lottery Fund will be delivered as follows:

Community Together CIC: £12,030.74. To fund IT equipment such as tablets, Zoom licences, sim cards and an IT tutor community digital learning, arts and crafts packs, helpline infrastructure, equipment and food supplies for the meals on wheels service and expenses for volunteer delivery drivers.

Support Staffordshire: £32,100. Staffing costs to train volunteers that have come forward as a result of Covid-19, including mental health training for volunteers and staff, as well as funding for additional room hire and equipment needed to safely extend services in line with social distancing.

St Giles Hospice and Heart of Tamworth. £4,918.75. To provide bereavement support in the form of zoom sessions, including staffing and admin costs (St Giles) and socially distant face to face bereavement support in the community (Sacred Heart).

Number 8 charity and Home Start. £12,020: Funding to furnish 10 properties for people who have been made homeless or are fleeing domestic abuse (Number 8 Charity) and additional staff hours to meet increased demand for help from the baby bank, which provides clothes and equipment for babies (Home Start).

Citizens Advice Bureau: £5,000. To fund equipment and technology to provide volunteers with equipment for remote working.

Tamworth Self Isolation Support Group: £18,000. To evolve the group into ‘The Hive’ – an organisation it its own right to support people to access food and to deliver a range of wellbeing courses such as reducing stress and anxiety, promoting positive activities and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Tamworth Food Bank: £10,260. To pay for a part-time member of staff for six months to support volunteers to meet the increased demand for the service.

The remaining £4,716.47 will be allocated to Community Together CIC to support with the administration of the fund.

A range of organisations and an army of almost 100 volunteers came together as part of the newly formed Tamworth Self Isolation Support Group, including Tamworth Community Together CIC, Heart of Tamworth, Sacred Heart Church, Tamworth Borough Council, Support Staffordshire, Tamworth Rotary Club, Home Start, Tamworth Herald, Radio Tamworth and Spotted Media.

Anyone who needs help can still contact the helpline on 01827 59646.