This Thank You Day, we want to recognise our fantastic team of dedicated staff for their amazing service to our communities and residents across Bedfordshire during the Covid 19 pandemic.
This past 15 months have been different for everyone working for BedsRCC, but the various teams have adapted and shown impressive resilience. Not only have they continued to deliver core services, but they have gone above and beyond to ensure vulnerable residents are still able to access services and help, and volunteers are fully supported to help provide a range of additional services to ensure this.
The Community Transport team have been busy with a wide range of tasks on top of their normal service provision, one of the biggest of which was the distribution of food parcels in partnership with Bedford Borough Council and the YMCA.
Neville Jephcote, Head of Community Transport said “So many staff have been so flexible, working evenings and weekends, travelling much further afield than usual, changing duties at a moment’s notice, working extra hours on a voluntary basis. Throughout this time they have been wonderful, doing their very best to ensure they provide for others’ needs and always with a smile.”
On the railways, our Community Rail Officers have also been working hard, using their imagination to move their work online (a different kind of line than that which they are used to) and continuing to engage with the many communities nearby. They were able to run Symbol Spot for the first time this year and spread some festive joy at the end of 2020 by bringing Christmas with The Femmes into people’s lounges.
BedsRCC supports over forty Good Neighbour Schemes (sometimes known as village care schemes) operating across the county and the GNS Team have ensured that the volunteers have been able to continue in a safe manner, adjusting their way of working to accommodate the loss of key long-term volunteers shielding and the gain of new temporary volunteers as residents on furlough flocked to help. A big piece of work was helping the groups’ drivers to keep themselves and their clients safe with supplies of protective car screens that enabled them to take more than just one passenger per car.
Cliff Andrews and his team also put together and delivered PPE to all volunteers and staff working with communities during a huge effort in April.
BedsRCC’s five Village and Community Agents have helped even more residents in Bedford Borough, Potton and Biggleswade to gain information, services and support during Covid conditions than in previous more ‘normal’ years. Despite the challenges of not being able to meet clients face to face indoors, our Agents still successfully helped them to achieve over two thousand positive outcomes – with nearly 900 improvements to health and wellbeing and over 300 financial benefits where clients saved money or gained extra income.
The Village Halls and Community Buildings service have ensured all those responsible for Village Halls are supported, providing up to date advice and ensuring Government legislation and guidelines are explained and followed to keep staff, volunteers and the public safe.
The Community Wellbeing Champions have adapted to restrictions and continued to deliver our social prescribing service to residents whilst working remotely. We have seen record numbers of residents referred into our service; Community Referral (social prescribing).
Kate Ellis, Head Of Community and Wellbeing said “Our team of project staff and Community Wellbeing Champions have given over and above to support residents when they needed it most, thank you. I am very proud of the team over the past year, they have risen to the job in very challenging circumstances.”
BedsRCC staff have also managed to co-ordinate a range of Walking4Health walk programmes throughout Bedfordshire when safe to do so. These individual programmes are led by trained volunteer Health Walk Leaders.
The staff at The Barn have continued to work tirelessly in the shop, providing a food delivery service during lockdown and keeping the café going with a takeaway service, and Jane Markham has kept volunteer morale up at the vineyard, even securing a visit from Antiques Roadshow in Summer 2020. And despite the pandemic, the Ridgmont team have managed to renovate Ridgmont Station Heritage Centre and rebrand the Tea Room and reopen.
Tracy Cowan, BedsRCC CEO, said, “The reason BedsRCC is, and continues to be, such a successful charity is down to the dedication and commitment of our wonderful team of staff. This dedication to helping others and supporting their communities is something they have clearly demonstrated in the enormous effort made during the pandemic, something they are continuing to do still. I’m incredibly proud of them all, they deserve a huge thank you.”
“As we head closer to stage 4 of the easing of Covid restrictions, I’m looking forward to seeing even more success from this amazing team, especially as we are delighted to now include Timebanking Central Bedfordshire and Time2Connect Houghton Regis in the BedsRCC family.”