Strathaven and Glassford Community Council grateful for COVID-19 community support initiatives

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The Strathaven and Glassford Community Council (CC) feels that the time is now right to give the Community an update on the support offered in the past few months in the wake of the Covid-19 Emergency. 

The response of our Avondale Community has been outstanding and diverse. The number of people volunteering to help others has been a testimony to a wonderful sense of community wellbeing and the Community Council wishes to thank all those who have been supporting others and all those who have followed the rules of the lockdown to create as safe an environment as possible for all of us.

Below is an approved Strathaven and Glassford Community Council report on Avondale community support since March 2020.

Strathaven and Glassford Community Council has been involved with Banks Renewables and the Kype Muir Partnership since the inception of the development of the windfarm.  At its regular meeting in March, CC members attending were advised that funding was being made available to provide community support during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Initially this amounted to £1000 with Sandford and Upper Avondale Community Council saying it would match this amount as required.

The organiser of Strathaven Community Resilience Group (SCRG) got in touch with M McDonald, a member of the CC, and asked if the CC was organising support. She got in touch with the Secretary of the CC and he explained a meeting to discuss ideas for community support had been organised by Robert and AJ Morris in Roasted the following day. He then invited the organiser of SCRG to that meeting. M McDonald did inform the group’s organiser that up to £2000 could be applied for from the Kypemuir Community Fund. She contacted all members of the CC who agreed to an initial application for £1000 from the CC.  As the SCRG group did not have a bank account, it was subsequently agreed with the CC Treasurer that she would manage any money from the Kypemuir Fund from the CC bank account. 

The meeting was well attended by businesses, groups and individuals.  The following day, as agreed, a WhatsApp group was established with all attendees included, and online discussions started.  The organiser of the SCRG left the group almost immediately (March 18).  The group subsequently contacted David Childs of the Strathaven Evangelical Church and Roddy Gillies of Outreach Community Church, who both agreed to get involved.  The core Zoom meeting attendees were David Childs, Donald Cooper, Sheila Munro Tulloch, Roddy Gillies and Les Hoggan.  The objective was to coordinate community support using funding that eventually amounted to £19,500, comprising funding by Banks Renewables, Falck Renewables, the Renewable Energy Fund and Sandford and Upper Avondale Community council.  All attendees at the original meeting in Roasted were kept up to date with progress through posts on the WhatsApp group and kept in touch with ideas and suggestions. Spending to date on community support projects amounts to over £13,000.

Strathaven and Glassford Community council agreed that funding was only available to what was now called the ‘Working together for Avondale’ Group and to organisations and groups linked to it.  The ‘Working together for Avondale’ group coordinated projects with funding and payment directly to organisations and individuals providing services managed by the Strathaven and Glassford Community Council. 

The group held weekly Zoom meetings with VASLan, Home Energy Scotland, Avondale LEAP, Wester Overton After School Club, Mind Marvels, Heather Bond and was in regular contact with local schools and the Health Centre.  It quickly established an effective range of community support, with reports monthly to the Community Council and also on the website and Facebook.  It had been agreed that the treasurer and secretary were able to make decisions on funding proposals and to report back to the CC for advice if they were unsure whether to proceed.  Regular financial reports were included in the updates as it is crucial that public funds donated to the CC by other organisations is being used properly and is fully audited. 

Activity to Date

Below is a summary of support provided through the fund managed by Strathaven and Glassford Community Council and organised by ‘Working together for Avondale’.

  1. Strathaven’s Foodbank, operated by Strathaven Evangelical Church has been delivering a minimum of 15 food parcels per week. It is trying to reach out to as many people in need as possible. If you are in need or know someone in need please get in touch by calling one of the numbers on the leaflet below.
  2. An approach was made by the group to Sainsbury’s to highlight that Strathaven had its own foodbank, and the manager agreed to install a further collection box for Strathaven’s Foodbank.  Collections have been in place since late March 2020.
  3. A free meal delivery service on Sundays, operated by Outreach Community Church and funded by the Community Council Fund. Over 13 weekends it has delivered 1904 free meals. On Friday May 22nd the OCC also handed out over 30 Youth Parcels.
  4. Glassford Community Group’s support for frontline workers has seen 15 nominees awarded £25 vouchers for the Steayban, part funded from the CC Fund. It has also collected and delivered around 50 prescriptions.
  5. Avondale Young Farmers has collected and delivered over 250 prescriptions across the community. 
  6. The local production of 275 visors for distribution across our community to groups, individuals and businesses, with a further 30 foam visors ordered due to additional demand. All 275 visors have already been distributed across our community to groups, individuals and businesses in Strathaven and Glassford. 20 of the additional supply will go to the St Andrews Hospice shop in Strathaven to support its reopening. This leaves 10 in stock and available as required. Visors have been distributed to around forty local businesses. In addition a few individuals asked for visors which were delivered to them. The visors were produced in Strathaven as part of a collaboration between Gary Tompsett and the University of Glasgow (which donated the brow frames).
  7. Creative Strathaven made up around 100 Art Kits for distribution across the community.  These were well received with great feedback from families.  A further 110 art kits were prepared and passed to Sandford and Upper Avondale Community Council, which funded these kits from its own funds.
  8. Mind Marvels is providing mindfulness support for families and Primary School children, whilst Heather Bond is offering similar support for adults and adolescents, through group online sessions or one-to-one. The first Mind Marvels session took place on Friday June 19th with more following in subsequent weeks. Twelve families took part in the first session with positive feedback.
  9. Book Swap was set up at a café in the town centre, involving two boxes, one for adults and one for children.  This has proven to be very popular and operates on the basis of take a book, bring a book.
  10. Ten nominations were received to recognise the efforts of locals who have gone above and beyond during COVID-19.  Each will receive a £20 vouchers for use in identified small businesses in Avondale.
  11. A donation of £400 has been made to Strathaven in Bloom to fund its work in brightening up Strathaven through floral displays.  The planting has now been completed.
  12. Avondale LEAP is sending out puzzle packs to its client base.  It has also been undertaking prescriptions collection, essential shopping and offering a telephone befriending service.
  13. Floor stickers and COVID distancing posters were made up for local businesses including the hospitality sector with over 100 stickers distributed. To date Covid posters were handed out to around 40 businesses, with floor stickers provided to nearly 20 businesses.  At present we have only 4 stickers in stock. 
  14. Support is being made available for local After-School Clubs to provide sanitiser and dispensers.
  15. Support has been offered to local schools for funded mindfulness sessions.  This has been allocated as committed expenditure until such times as schools are able to welcome visitors onto the premises.
  16. A donation of £250 has been committed to Avondale Young Farmers to recognise the fantastic community effort it has undertaken.

Strathaven and Glassford Community Council considers the work of ‘Working together for Avondale Group’, including Strathaven Business Association, Avondale Young Farmers, Avondale LEAP, Glassford Community Group, Outreach Community Church, Strathaven Evangelical Church, Mind Marvels and Heather Bond to having been crucial in delivering community support, as has the financial support provided by Banks Renewables, Falck Renewables, Renewable Energy Fund and Sandford and Upper Avondale Community Council.  

The community support effort has also included other groups and individuals, including Lawrence Nicholson of Inspirited and Colin McLean of McLeans Gin who worked together to produce significant amounts of hand sanitizer for the community, made possible through crowdfunding.  Local shops and businesses continued to operate on revised business models enabling residents to have access to food and supplies at a time when travel was limited to five miles.  Many residents have undertaken fundraisers including Colin Bryce and Grace McCabe.  Window decoration, school gate decoration, driveway painting, garden ornament repainting have all take place to help support the morale of the community.  Lockdown Galas took place in Strathaven and Glassford. Rhona McLeod sold plants she had grown to raise funds for Strathaven’s Foodbank, with Sainsbury’s also donating £100 of goods to the foodbank collection. There will be many more acts of kindness and community support and we should recognise all of them.

Working together for Avondale has been a great success, but only as part of a wider community effort to ensure our residents were safe and supported.  This has included friends and families doing shopping on behalf of others and being there when needed.  This all demonstrated that Avondale really is a community and that in itself deserves recognition.

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