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Devon Communities Together – Covid-19 Information, Updates and Resources

Our Covid-19 support newsletters will regularly provide you with information, guidance and resources during this ongoing situation. 

Here at DCT we have set up a helpline to support Village Halls, Community Buildings and Parish and Town Councils. If you would like to get in contact with us, please phone: 0808 1963390 Alternatively you can access advice from our website. From our dedicated Coronavirus Information webpage, you will find guidance and support about the following subjects:

1.What is Coronavirus?

2.General Guidance

3. Stay at home guidance

4.Advice for Village Halls and Community Buildings

5.Advice for Community Groups

6.Protecting the isolated and vulnerable 

7.Community Messaging System

8.Guidance for Community Transport

9.Churches Meeting Community Needs

10.Cyber Protect Advice from Devon and Cornwall Police

11.Advice from the Charity Commission around Charity Governence

12.Funding & Grants Available 

Please continue to read below, to find updates and information from various organisations, that can help to support you during this time. 

Devon County Council: Advice For Setting Up Local Support Groups  

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, many people have been asking about setting up local groups to support vulnerable residents with shopping, picking up prescriptions, or just keeping in contact. 

There is support available from your local Council for Voluntary Service (CVS). 

•If you are in Exeter, visit the Exeter Community Wellbeing website

•For the rest of Devon find contact details on the Devon Voluntary Action (DeVA) website

If you are setting up a local group, make sure you are aware of the implications of the current legislation regarding data protection and safeguarding vulnerable adults. Although much of the legislation may not apply to you, there are some important principles you must follow around keeping personal data safe and confidential, and ensuring the most vulnerable are protected from harm.

You can find useful information and resources on the Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK website, and information on data protection for community groups from the Resource Centre website.

Advice concerning COVID-19 is developing rapidly, so make sure you are aware of the most current and correct advice before engaging with vulnerable residents.

Register a Community Support Group 

Many communities in Devon are putting together local initiatives to support those in need. If you are involved with creating or running a local support group, please: 

1.Get in touch with your local Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) who can support you and are coordinating activity. If you are in Exeter, visit the Exeter Community Wellbeing website and for the rest of Devon find contact details on the Devon Voluntary Action (DeVA) website.

2.Please register some basic details with Devon County Council so that we can help to signpost people appropriately.

Find a Community Support Group 

Many communities in Devon are putting together local initiatives to support those in need. You can find a support group in your area, here. This list is growing fast: to add a local group that is missing, please pass your details to us using this form.

Community Crisis Phone System 

A new phone system has been set up for community groups, to use during Covid-19. The 3CX web client is used to call, chat and video conference and will enable community support groups to publish a single support number which can be manned by several operators and handle several inbound calls at a time. Primarily, this system has been created to support small community groups, during a time where they might recieve a high number of enquiries. 

Created by Grey Matter, this is a simple, resilient, cloud based phone system which can be deployed at minimal cost (£8 per month) to help community groups in a crisis.  

Please find a step by step guide here and a user guide here

Devon Community Foundation Recovery Fund 

Devon Community Foundation has now opened a Covid19 recovery fund to raise funds for local charitable groups that are supporting the most vulnerable people affected by the outbreak of coronavirus. You can apply to the Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund here. Further information about criteria, can be found here.

Action With Communities in Rural England 

Thousands of village halls will be temporarily closing their doors to the communities they have supported; some for over 100 years. For the community there is dismay and uncertainty about when they will be open again and their committees will be taking a hard look at the long-term future of their Hall. 

We have spoken to committees who feel they are in a precarious situation but also to those who have enough reserves to keep them going. 

So, what is ACRE doing?

In the early stages of the crisis we provided guidance to the ACRE Network on the process for Halls considering closure of their Hall

We have been in discussion with the rural team at Defra so that they are fully informed of the issues facing village halls now. Defra are working closely with the Communities Team at the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government. Thank you to those village hall committees who have come forward and provided detail of the likely financial impact should the hall need to stay closed for a long period.

ACRE Board and Senior Management are working alongside other infrastructure bodies to clarify how the proposals for supporting businesses can also support charities.

ACRE is now in discussion with Government for financial support fund for halls at risk.

Meanwhile the National Village Hall Survey is live until Monday 20th April 2020.

Please complete it; tell us all about your Hall as this information will now be so important as evidence of the valuable roles of halls in rural communities. If you have started to complete the Survey now is the time to log back in and complete it! 

National Village Hall Survey is available here: https://acre.org.uk/our-work/national-village-and-community-hall-survey.php 

Some village hall committees will be preparing to submit their Stage 2 applications for the Village Hall Improvement Grant Fund. The deadline is still the 31st March 2020. If you need support or have problems accessing information due to the current situation then let your ACRE Network member know.

Contact your local ACRE Network Member Martin Rich, Devon Communities Together, martin@devoncommunities.org.uk, 07984001542