A virtual seminar was held on the evening of Wednesday 20 January with City, Town and Community Councils from across Pembrokeshire, to reflect on what has worked well within our communities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how we can continue with the momentum that has clearly been evident and made a difference.
Hosted by Pembrokeshire County Council with PAVS, and additional support from PLANED, approximately 50 attendees heard from speakers including Cllr. Neil Prior, Sue Leonard from PAVS and our own CEO, Iwan Thomas here in PLANED, all under the expert chairing of Cllr Phil Baker.
With an overview to start the evening including the perspective from local councils themselves, followed by the experience and views from the Third Sector, the main part of the evening soon got underway with online group discussions amongst all attendees. The benefit of zoom is that everyone should have been comfortable in their own home, and not huddled around a table in a corner of a room as in the past!
With four groups all tasked with the same three questions to debate, the 25 minutes allowed was soon taken up with considerable discussions. Each of the groups had clear suggestions and ideas on what was needed to continue the momentum built up within communities since the first lockdown in March, and how this could be sustained.
Working in partnership was an area which certainly was of interest to many, and the potential for creating locality clusters of local councils potentially, where resources, ideas and other assets, could be shared.
Methods of communication were also flagged up as an opportunity to look at in more detail, with many examples of how communities have engaged with residents during lockdown, being held up as best practice, but still an awareness of not all residents either having access to, or wishing to engage via digital platforms. Looking at solutions which encompass all outlets being used to benefit all residents is something that is currently being looked at by PLANED in a pilot project, and if successful, will be shared widely with partners across the county for all to engage with should they wish.
The conclusions as drawn by the Cllr Phil Baker, and supported by many vocally online at the event, as well as through social media outlets, was that this discussion was a success, and very welcome in its tone and format with the support of both PAVS including the online hosting and facilitation, and PLANED through facilitation of the group discussion and as a speaker.
The challenge with any discussions of this nature, is to keep the momentum and build on it, and with another online meeting for this audience to happen once again before the end of February, there is considerable support and willingness by many involved, to build and grow this new potential forum as a positive contributor to our communities across Pembrokeshire.