Offering local support

Thrive Together Birmingham and Birmingham Churches Together are looking to support churches and community run projects and initiatives during these challanging times. In this update Thrive Together Birmingham have compiled some useful information on the different support networks emerging in Birmingham.

Birmingham City council has joined forces with BVSC to create the C19 Support Brum partnership, an initiative that will work through existing local neighbourhood structures, voluntary groups, and local elected members to ensure that all parts of the city have access to support, advice, and practical help.

Visit the BVSC website for information and links to a range of neighbourhood initiatives including- B31, Moseley, Selly Park, Kings Heath, Harborne, Selly Oak, Hodge Hill, Erdington, Great Barr, Kings Norton and Kingstanding.

Thrive Together Birmingham have been asked to be part of this partnership to help link with churches and Christian organisations.

Food
In terms of advising on practical responses we are particularly focusing our support on Food Banks as most of these are hosted or led by churches around the region. The demands on existing volunteers are growing and it is possible that more volunteers will be required as time goes on.

In Birmingham the volunteer food response is being co-ordinated by The Active Wellbeing Society. They are taking the lead for the Birmingham-wide co-ordinated response for recruiting volunteers who can:
• Offer support via phone to those self isolating
• Offer resources and activities for home educating, or DBS checked child care to families
• Food to share, or a means to distribute or store food collected
• Vehicle/means to collect groceries, prescriptions etc
• Translation and language skills to help communications to be as inclusive as possible
• Specialised medical and mental health support
• Pet walking
• Storage space for supplies
… or any other ideas you have to help Birmingham citizens in need.

You can contact The Active Wellbeing Society through their website.

Voluntary activity
In terms of local self-help groups Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK is supporting volunteer-led Community Support Groups around the country. These are primarily active residents organising themselves in response to local needs so there is no prescriptive approach to setting them up or running them. It is possible to locate one in your locality through the national website https://covidmutualaid.org/local-groups/there is guidance on how to initiate one if you are so minded.

The site contains lots of guidance on good and safe practice as well as connecting to other local activists. If we are looking to care for vulnerable neighbours you may want to focus on the hyper-local, that is the streets where we live, where we are known because people see us coming in and out of our homes. This reduces the risk of strangers taking advantage of the opportunity to exploit the vulnerable, particularly elderly people.

Support for the most vulnerable
Birmingham Public Health are advising on NHS support to the 1.5 million shielding citizens as per below:

If someone has been contacted by the NHS and needs support with shopping and other daily living tasks, the number to call to request support is 08000288327 or request it via the website https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable

More guidance including an easy to read format can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

General questions

Birmingham Churches Together and Thrive Together Birmingham are aware that churches around Birmingham and Solihull are playing their part in the response.

We are very happy to play our part in supporting them and others to contribute to the wider C19SupportBrum. We have already received a number of requests for advice and guidance which team members have endeavoured to respond to. The result is that there is some good practice already happening around Birmingham and some good stories are emerging.

Please feel free to contact the Thrive team through Fred Rattley, Director for Community Regeneration, Church of England Birmingham and Chief Executive of Thrive Together Birmingham via his email fredr@cofebirmingham.com and he will try to link you to the right person for the support or information you need.

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