The Area Council Manager provided an overview of performance, which included all contracted services and made members aware that they were between quarters and expecting the Quarter 4 update at the June meeting.
A reminder was provided to Members to inform them that the contracts in place for the Supporting Vulnerable and Isolated Older People grants were due to finish in June and that a new specification was being drawn up for that. The Clean Green and Tidy Service had moved into its’ second year following member approval at the last PAC meeting The new DIAL contract had commenced but no updates were due until the June meeting of PAC and the CAB debts advice service was in place until September with a 6 month extension to the contract funded by financial hardship monies to take it to end of march 2022.
Members were informed that Age UK had undertaken a number of initiatives including working in collaboration with Wortley Golf Club to provide 244 meals to older people across the area which had been picked up by the local news. Age Uk had also linked in to Barnsley Walking Development Group and had met via Microsoft Teams to discuss extending their walks to older people in other areas after the 12th April, as the Walk for Health Group in Silkstone had been a success before it had been suspended due to lockdown rules. The work Age UK have been doing to link up with Wentworth Castle Garden had been suspended but plans were in place to open the site up with some long and short routes around the gardens plus logistical arrangements around available transport such as Community Car Scheme or Dial-a-Ride minibus to aid older visitors in getting there.
Volunteers had continued to support service users, some visiting in gardens where possible and providing delivery of meals, plus delivery of some Activities at Home packs to help keep people occupied. Members were informed that Karen Tyas from Café Crème had been given a Barnsley Age Friendly Award for her support to the local community during the pandemic. Working with the area team and volunteers Age UK delivered 90 Winter Wellbeing packs to older people in the Penistone area. Age UK had been trialling a new app called Volunteero which was a volunteer management tool to allow a more efficient way of managing volunteer activity and interactions. A significant increase in falls had been reported due to lack of mobility and a decrease in taking part in activities due to the lockdown, this had been targeted in a leaflet included in the Winter Warmth pack around exercising at home.
Twiggs were commended for finding alternative ways of working with volunteers during the lockdown such as training over the telephone or online. A significant increase in volunteers for litter picking had been seen not only across the Penistone Area but throughout the borough. Funding from the Ward Alliance had provided an equipment tool bank which was proving invaluable and extremely popular.
Other initiatives included tree planting in Thurgoland, incredible edible beds in various locations and planning for future events such as Cawthorne Spring Clean and various litter picks. Members were also informed that Twiggs had been donated Easter Eggs from Tesco, Co-op Asda and Spar which they had given out to the volunteers who had given their time for litter picking.
In respect of the DIAL contract, whilst there were no new figures to report since the Quarter 3 report in January, it was reported that there had been and continued to be a large uptake in their advice and information service since lockdown began. It was reported that their online and telephone advice sessions would continue until it was safe to hold one to one sessions once again.
An update was provided on the works carried out by the Area Team including some extensive work around re-mapping of all the Community Groups in the area and work to contact the groups to discuss recovery steps and forward planning for coming out of the pandemic.
The Area Team have worked to promote the Supporting Young People’s grant fund within the Penistone networks to which they had received 9 enquiries at the time of the meeting, with a good variety of potential projects. Discussions had been held with a voluntary sector service to provide free accredited training in support of young people’s mental health with future funded projects that would be engaging with Young people. The Area Team had been volunteering during the Easter Holidays in the Borough wide initiative to provide food and activities for families who receive free school meals. Lessons learnt from the initiative were that food parcels were heavy so a review would be needed in time for planning for the next school holidays.
Members were informed that the Area Team had also helped with distribution of winter warmth packs, provided support to Twiggs in securing additional volunteers equipment bank and also with Neighbourhood Services to ensure a smoother process for volunteers. The Neighbourhood Engagement Officer, Rana Kubesi continued to work closely with the Public Health Team to ensure support around Covid guidelines continued in the Penistone Community. Work is progressing on the Principal Towns Programme for Penistone with site visits looking for locations for way finding and public art spaces. Members noted that a new Project officer had been working with the Team to refresh and re-design the social media platforms hoping to attract a wider audience, and that this was an ongoing piece of work.
RESOLVED that the report be received and that thanks be placed on record for all the hard work the volunteers and Groups had carried out.