A series of community projects to befriend and support vulnerable and lonely Walsall people during the coming months has got underway.
Walsall Community Network secured a grant of £100,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund to launch its ‘Neighbourhood Natters’ project.
The initiative sees support given to people who have been isolated at home to return to reopened community centres and take part in activities.
It will also help people who can’t leave their homes through befriending phone calls, prescription services, meal deliveries, a book delivery service and distributing ‘mental health packs’.
The network was supported by Walsall Council and backed with additional funding from the Walsall for All organisation.
Janet Davies, centre manager at Brownhills Community Association, who are managing the project said: “Staff and volunteers have already started to deliver on the project which offers a raft of support to residents.
“The project aims to support all residents particularly those whose mental health and wellbeing has been impacted from months of isolation.
“For those residents unable to leave their home, then ‘Neighbourhood Natters’ will be available at your home where befriending can be done from their door steps.
“Community centres are reopening following lockdown but still face considerable challenges as service users have understandably lost confidence or have other genuine concerns making them slow to resume hobbies and interests such as craft groups, exercise classes and indoor bowling clubs
even though all of the centres are Covid secure.
“This project will encourage residents to attend these activities with the aim to reduce their social isolation and loneliness.”
Councillor Garry Perry, portfolio holder for community, leisure and culture, said more than 12,000 people have been contacted by community associations to offer support during the lockdown.
He said: “I’ve waxed lyrical about the impact these organisations had particularly during phase one of the pandemic.
“The ability to get things to the front line such as food supplies and trying to get in touch with those in need happened because of the partnership between them and the council.
“Our community associations have been absolutely phenomenal.
“Neighbourhood Natters has grown within three weeks and it is supporting all ages and not just elderly.
“Befriending is key to supporting some of our most vulnerable people as we move forward and it is great to see and hear.”
Anyone wishing to find out more about “Neighbourhood Natters” should contact Brownhills Community Association on 01543 452119.