Though Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on life in Pembrokeshire, affecting every determinant of health and well being across the county, the mood was very positive in last month’s online meeting between partners in the Together For Change Project, held on Thursday 18th June 2020.
Organised by Solva Care, Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services (PAVS) and PLANED, together with community groups and individuals invited to share ideas, the discussion focussed on current and post COVID19 support for new and established community groups with a research and development programme of mentorship and shared learning.
Sue Denman, Solva Care Trustee and presenter, commented, “We have taken a broad approach to wellbeing, locally, that encompasses individual, social, environmental and economic solutions. We think that this will help us to rebuild the strength and resilience of our community. Others may find this useful as we go forward with Together for Change”
Despite the far-reaching impact of the current pandemic and the concomitant uncertainty about the future among all sectors of society, the Together for Change partners agreed there had been a considerable silver lining to the crisis, like the emergence of over a 100 new community groups, a marked increase in the number of new volunteers, the ability to sustain many routine services and a general can-do attitude in the face of major practical difficulties.
Chief Executive of PLANED, Iwan Thomas, attended along with Cris Tomas to discuss how PLANED can help and deliver sustainable and meaningful progress for the Together for Change project.
Iwan commented, “The strength of community action is not to shift power in its entirety, but to share power, and the feedback and contributions at this event are testament to this willingness to work more collaboratively with our communities.”
All agreed that to go forward with confidence, what was required was action across six broad areas, which were: underpinning values and principles: knowledge to inform the way forward; a voice for communities; keeping our volunteers and the encouragement of volunteering; good communication that can be accessed by all; removing barriers to change.
Sue Leonard, CO of PAVS, summed it up perfectly: “We have worked well together in a time of crisis. So, we either need to create a permanent state of crisis or preferably find something more positive we can get behind- creating active, connected and resourceful communities and a strong local well-being economy for Pembrokeshire.”