COVID-19 Community Group Newsletter

1 May 2020
This newsletter is for community groups that are coordinating efforts to support those in self isolation and people in need, with tailored information, advice, hints and tips.

Wiltshire Council support

The Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub

We have set up a dedicated hub to support the most vulnerable residents during the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The hub is available to anyone who is struggling during this difficult time, such as people who are shielding or self-isolating and don’t have a support network around them or know where to get help.

People can get in touch with the hub via email at or by calling 0300 003 4576. It’s available from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday. On Bank Holiday Friday 8 May the hub will open from 10am to 4pm.

The hub has so far contacted over 11,100 households in relation to people screening and self-isolating due to Covid 19; phone calls have been followed up with letters and emails sharing information and advice including local community group contacts and resources. Where we have not been able to make contact with a household after three attempted phone calls, the household will be visited by Council staff and volunteers from Serve On acting on behalf of the Council. If this issue is raised with you by residents, please reassure them that the activity is approved and authorised by the Council.

Community Group Directory and Volunteer Group Information Pack
We have created a communities group directory and an information pack for volunteer groups to help them support their communities during the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The information pack includes top tips on setting up a volunteer group, advice on supporting those in self-isolation, a range of template forms and useful signposting to other resources. Both are available on the Wiltshire Council website.

Please email with any amendments, deletions or additions to the community directory.

Online active communities resources
With people stuck at home for the foreseeable future, we’ve compiled a list of resources across a wide range of subjects to try and provide something of interest for everyone.The resources have been broken down into categories: Keep active; Mental Health; Read and rhyme!; Creativity, culture and heritage; Digital learning; Home schooling. View the online resources.

Thanks to all the community volunteer groups
We have written an open letter to say thanks and pay tribute to the 400+ community volunteer groups that have been set-up to support Wiltshire’s communities during the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

The letter is from Cllr Philip Whitehead, Leader of Wiltshire Council; Cllr Allison Bucknell, Cabinet Member for Communities; Alistair Cunningham, Chief Executive Officer and Terence Herbert, Chief Executive Officer.

Cllr Bucknell has also filmed a video thanking the groups and promoting some of our Active Communities resources for you to try at home.

View our open letter of thanks to Wiltshire’s community volunteer groups
Free online volunteer wellbeing training
We recognise and value the work you are doing as volunteers during this challenging time in response to COVID-19. Wiltshire Council’s Public Health team are offering a free virtual interactive training and support session on looking after your own mental wellbeing and emotional resilience within your role as volunteers during this time. The session will provide practical tips for looking after your own emotional wellbeing, particularly when faced with challenging conversations. It will reflect on the remit of your role as a volunteer. Please note this is not a counselling service.

The live session will last for up to 60 minutes and we are looking to organise it for week commencing 18 May, day and time to be confirmed. It will be delivered online and can be accessed externally. The training will be split between a presentation style learning element and an interactive session which gives volunteers the opportunity to ask questions.

If you are interested in the volunteer wellbeing training please email
Depending on interest, we may look to arrange further sessions.

Celebrating VE Day at home
We have created a special VE Day at home pack to help residents of all ages celebrate and mark the 75th anniversary of this historic moment in time.

With social distancing measures still in place, the pack contains simple advice and suggestions on how to have a household garden party on Friday 8 May, which this year is a bank holiday.

The packs also contain themed recipe ideas, a World War II VE Day quiz and wordsearch, some suggested e-reading materials from our library service, craft ideas on how to make bunting and paperchains, 1940s-inspired games and songs to sing to keep the family entertained.

Please do help share the pack with anyone in the community that may find it of interest.

Read more and download the VE Day pack
Share your experiences of kindness
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place during week commencing 18 May, and the theme for this year is Kindness. We know there are a lot of incredibly kind acts happening within our communities who are responding to local needs, particularly at the moment. We would love to hear about any impressive acts of kindness that you have experienced in the community.

If you would like to share your experience of kindness, please share your story in a maximum of 200 words by email to and attach a photo with a completed consent form if you are happy for this to be shared within our newsletters, Twitter and Facebook. Please keep in mind that we may not be able to respond to everyone or share everyone’s experiences.

Non-urgent passenger transport to hospital
Under normal circumstances patients would be subject to an eligibility criteria, but during COVID-19, this has been relaxed. If patients need to attend appointments at one of the acute hospitals they can book seven days in advance by contacting PTAC on 01278 727410. Please be aware that as the COVID-19 situation improves the eligibility criteria will be re-implemented, and we do not currently know the timescale for this.

Alternatively, patients can contact the NHS Volunteers directly on 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm) where community groups may be able to offer support.

If someone has an emergency and needs to attend A&E, they should call 999.

Resuscitation guidelines and Defibrillator cleaning
What guidance can you give about resuscitation during COVID-19?

We support the Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) advice for managing community-based cardiac arrests. During COVID-19, this puts a keen emphasis on continuing to provide early defibrillation and hands-only CPR with the additional advice of carrying-out visual airway checks only and placing a towel over the patient’s face for improved protection for the rescuer.

View the guidance here and please share with anyone that may find it helpful.

Should you clean the defibrillator (defib)/how should you clean the defib?

Yes, the defib can and should be cleaned regularly and certainly after use.

The defibrillator itself, its casing or pouch and the cabinet can be cleaned with disinfectant wipes or by using a clean cloth coated with disinfect surface spray.

One Stop Community Fund

One Stop has responded to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis by setting up a new short-term fund to support communities in need in this time of crisis, rather than fund specific projects.

Grants of up to £500 are available for groups to help support them in at this time. For some of our neighbourhood groups that do not have bank accounts set-up, they could affiliate themselves with a Town or Parish Council, local charity or established community group to help them handle the funding.

A streamlined application and payment process has been created to make it easier to get funds to people in need quickly. If you have not used this system before, you will need to create a new account before you can access the application form. When you open your application form, you will find a link to the guidance notes and you should read them before starting your application form. It is recommended you either use the Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox web browsers to access the website.

The application form stage is managed by Groundwork UK, who will assess your application and also process your payment, if successful. If your application is successful, the fund will provide a single payment award of £500 to help you support vulnerable groups.

Visit the application system to apply for funding
Just Finance Foundation
The Just Finance Foundation are providing a signposting service to people about their finances and how to get support during the pandemic.

The online courses they are running provide information and reference for the areas that people might need guidance on during this time. The COVID Cash Course trains community leaders and organisations to remotely deliver financial capability information to individuals in their community.

The Foundation are hoping to add to these resources by providing a list of contacts where people can find out about their local services.

More on the Just Finance Foundation’s resources
Wessex Community Action and other resources
Wessex Community Action logo. Supporting Community and Voluntary Activity
Wessex Community Action have a dedicated Covid-19 page for the VCSE organisations in Wiltshire. This is kept updated as a one stop shop for resources and information sharing resources between councils for voluntary services across the country. At the bottom of their page you can sign up to receive the Wessex Community Action newsletters to keep automatically updated with local and national news.

Training and Events
Keep up to date with latest volunteering policy, research and practice at these sector-leading free webinar training and events:

Payment methods
See this document produced by Wessex Community Action for payment methods that volunteers can use.

Befriending Guidance for Covid-19 Groups Supporting Isolated Residents
Many volunteers in your community maybe offering to call isolated residents to reduce their sense of isolation and loneliness. This Befriending Guidance can be used as a template to share with your volunteers.

Other resources

More on Wessex Community Action
Create to Connect in May
Create to Connect is a month of creative challenges for each day of May, for you to do at home. It’s specifically designed to keep communities connected, curious and creative in uncertain times.

You can sign up to receive daily challenge emails, or follow ’64 Million Artists’ on social media.

They’ve created free downloadable activity packs for community leaders, teachers and families to run challenges locally.

You can also join a Challenge Whatsapp group! If you’d like to share your challenges in a small group with others taking part, you can let them know here.

Find out more about Create to Connect