Year of community strength and generosity since first national lockdown

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(Last Updated On: March 17, 2021)

Next Wednesday, 23 March 2021 will mark one year since the first COVID-19 national lockdown and Torbay pay tribute to the immense hard work of people and organisations across the Bay, over the past year.

Torbay Council and partners have been crunching numbers to share the selfless generosity and hard work our community, colleagues and partners have demonstrated throughout a year of lockdowns and restrictions.

The results demonstrate the exceptional strength of the Bay’s community spirit and our commitment to working together in the face of the greatest of challenges.

· £87.8 million in restrictions grants and business rates relief to businesses in the Bay affected by restrictions.

· More than 470,000 food parcels have so far been sorted, packed and distributed by Torbay Food Alliance which started in March 2020 as a direct response to COVID-19, with 12 community organisations coming together to meet demand for food from those facing food poverty or needing extra help due to shielding or self-isolation.

· 28,958 contacts have been made by council staff to offer people clinically vulnerable to the virus and advised to shield from the virus, help and support.

· 18,500 calls taken by volunteers at Torbay community helpline, which is a group of organisations from the charity and voluntary sector in the Bay led by Community Development Trust.

· 7000 local children, young people and their families in the Bay provided with vouchers over the school holidays

· Nearly 7000 businesses contacted directly about restriction grants, support and guidance throughout the pandemic

· 1688 ‘rapid responses’ made by volunteers for people who cannot leave their home and needing urgent help with shopping and prescriptions.

· 1,500 volunteers offering their help, including 323 people helping get people to and around the vaccination centre in Torquay, 245 people signing up to be community champions who help share key information with friends and family, and 81 volunteer drivers. 68 new Good Neighbour schemes have also been established.

Councillor Steve Darling, Leader of Torbay Council, said: “The past year has undoubtedly been the hardest most of us will ever face and the generosity of ordinary people who have chosen to step up and support others is remarkable. The numbers tell part of the story but the impact on those who have needed our help is immeasurable.

“There are many community organisations and individuals who have contributed to this effort and I would particularly like to thank Torbay Community Development Trust for its immense work to bring people and organisations together from across the Bay.”

Councillor Darren Cowell, Deputy Leader of the Council said: “Our businesses are very much at the heart of our community. They create local jobs, invest in our economy and provide social places for our residents and visitors. The impact of COVID-19 has been brutal and the £64 million in financial aid we have delivered, along with COVID-19 guidance and support, have been a lifeline for so many.

“We have a lot of work to do to help our businesses rise again, starting with delivering new ‘re-start’ and discretionary grants just as soon as we are able to, and I urge our Torbay community to get behind our local businesses as they start to re-open, remembering to stay COVID-19 safe.”

Tracey Cabache, Operations Director of Torbay Community Development Trust, said: “It has been a very challenging year for everyone, but the hard work put in by so many people has made the Torbay Community Helpline a resounding success.

“We could not have achieved all that has been achieved without our partner organisations working alongside each other in a way that has never been seen before and an army of volunteers from across the Bay who have stepped up time and time again.

“We knew our communities were strong in the Bay, but the response to this pandemic has proved that not only are they strong, they are also resilient. We have all been in this together and together we are coming through it.”

The council has also been hard at work to ensure self-isolation payments are made, and to help our care homes as they work through the pandemic to protect some of our most vulnerable our residents.

The council continue to work with the NHS and Department of Health and Social Care partners to deliver essential testing and vaccination services to the Bay. There are now two testing centres for people with symptoms, a growing testing service for those without symptoms, as well as the vaccination centre at the Riviera International Conference Centre.

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