Posted on: Monday 27 April 2020
Today (27/04/2020), in response to Covid-19, Torfaen Council have launched 'Torfaen Community Support', a Mobile App to help quickly and easily link Torfaen’s most vulnerable residents with volunteers who can help support them.
The Torfaen Community Support App is part of the council’s response to the Government’s Shielding Scheme to protect the most vulnerable residents including those instructed to stay in isolation.
Around three thousand residents in Torfaen who are especially vulnerable due to age or underlying health conditions have received a letter from the NHS advising them to remain home, in complete isolation, for 12 weeks.
The council, with the help of partners, including Bron Afon and Torfaen Leisure Trust, and alongside community groups and volunteers is coordinating and providing direct support. The council’s response will prioritise those residents in receipt of letters who are unable to rely on family, friends or community support throughout the period of shielding.
Residents who sign up to the app for support will be able to make requests for:
- Collection of medication
- Shopping for food and other essentials
- The free food parcels being offered to the most vulnerable
- Someone to chat with to help counter isolation and loneliness
Once the App is downloaded, both volunteers and vulnerable people can all apply to participate in the scheme by providing some basic information, which will be securely stored and managed.
The Torfaen Community Support App has been developed by Syncsort, one of the council’s technology partners. The app will aid the council’s newly established Community Support Hub to operate more efficiently and will be particularly helpful as resident’s needs grow and volunteer skills and availability changes over time.
The Community Support Hub will manage the scheme and make the necessary checks to make sure that only those who are genuinely vulnerable are registered on it and also make sure that volunteers understand their role and responsibilities and make necessary background checks.
The Hub team will match suitable volunteers to requests for support, considering where people live, whether they have a car and the type of help they have said they can offer.
Volunteers should be aware that it may be a little while before they get assigned requests for support and they may not be needed for all types of support they have offered.
Once a relationship between a user and a volunteer is established, the scheme would look to maintain it until such time as the volunteer becomes unavailable, or the user no longer needs support. This will avoid shielded residents having to establish a relationship and trust with too many different volunteers.
Torfaen Council Leader, Cllr Anthony Hunt said, ‘‘I am pleased to announce that today we have officially launched our Community Support App as an important addition to the council’s response to supporting our most vulnerable residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a council, we wanted to develop something innovative that makes it as quick and easy as possible for the community to work alongside us to support our most vulnerable residents, particularly in a time of great need.
The app does just that and we hope that residents who are seeking support are encouraged to sign up to receive a swift and supportive response'.
Executive Member for Children, Families & Communities Cllr Fiona Cross, said: ‘The council’s contribution, including the app, is in addition to the great work being done by our communities across Torfaen to support people made vulnerable by Covid-19.
The work by community leaders, groups, existing networks and volunteers has been really impressive. It is so heartening to be a part of this community movement and I truly hope it continues post Covid'.
In order to use the Torfaen Community Support App residents will need to register interest here. (Please be aware it may take a few days for users to be authorised)
Once accepted, a link will be sent which will enable users to log in to the web version of the app, or download and log into the mobile app from either the Apple or Google stores.
A web version of the app is also available via the Covid-19 page on the council’s website for those who do not have access to mobile devices. If residents have no access to the web they can call 01495 762200 for assistance.