Agenda item

COVID- 19 Pandemic - Community Recovery


Mark Forrester - Head of Democratic and Community Services, presented a report which outlined possible key social challenges and issues to consider in the recovery phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Staffordshire Moorlands District Council had established an officer group to develop a Covid-19 recovery plan across a number of themes one of which was designated as ‘community recovery’. The initial scoping brief for the theme included:


·         Developing an evidenced based understanding of the impact on our local communities,

·         Understanding and planning for the impact on the support services that we currently provide,

·         Providing support and coordination to the local voluntary sector, community groups and other partners,

·         Developing community cohesion in respect of the response.


Covid-19 had significantly impacted on the lives of people with some groups of people impacted more severely than others and this had left a legacy that required a policy response. Similarly the potential impact in the next phase of lockdown easing, and longer term impact was likely to be felt unequally.


Impacts had been felt by older and vulnerable people, children and young people, working households and specific communities. These included impact on health, education, jobs and income, the local environment and services people access.


There had been positive developments, particularly the way in which people had stepped forward as volunteers and “good neighbours”. The voluntary sector had played a critical role in supporting people and the Council has formed a closer working relationship with key organisations.


The question was raised about what the key issues were that the Council should think about as part of ‘community recovery’, whether there were particular groups of people that needed to be prioritised in the short and medium term, and what the opportunity might be to work differently with the voluntary sector and other partners.


A series of steps were suggested, which included the development of a basket of indicators to track the impact of the pandemic over the long term, engagement with the voluntary sector, key statutory sector organisations and use of current formal partnerships to coordinate the community recovery work.


Members congratulated various local volunteer groups for the work they had recently carried out in the community. It was noticeable that the majority of volunteers were over the age of 70, but during the pandemic some younger volunteers had come forward to assist. The importance of continuous engagement with the volunteer groups was discussed, along with the possibility of a volunteer recruitment day and assistance from Your Housing Group. Mark Forrester – Head of Democratic and Community Services, agreed with the importance of volunteers being kept engaged and would discuss this with Support Staffordshire and volunteer groups.


The future of the Kniveden Partnership was raised, as it was a concern given the expected surge in mental health issues following the pandemic. There was also concern around the government food vouchers not being available to all families affected financially due to the virus and the possibility of housing evictions. The health and wellbeing of families was a factor that needed to be considered and it was asked if the leisure centres could provide any assistance with this.


It had been noticed that the temporary structures created to allow social distancing in a public house is Cheadle were not suitable for the winter months and it was queried if the Council could provide any support. This query would be referred to the Council’s Economic Recovery Group and Members were reminded to report any issues to the Local Outbreak Board.


The Chair advised the Panel that the therapy lodges at Werrington were now available, where support around mental health and finances could be assessed. Councillor Yates also highlighted the ‘Help Biddulph Bloom - Shop Local’- support campaign which had benefited local businesses and the self employed.

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