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Awards Spotlight - Ryecroft NRC Community Association

Introducing Ryecroft NRC Community Association

Community Associations play a vital role in supporting people across Walsall. The programmes and services found at each Community Association are varied and often bespoke to respond to the local need. These centres and their dedicated staff are pillars of their local communities and provide invaluable support. Community associations have, in particular, been at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic, responding to the needs of the community through food parcels, befriending and deliveries (and much more), reaching out to the most vulnerable and creating positive impact.


What successes have there been for your organisation or your local community over the past few months? We are happy to see community spirit is alive and well in our area as we knew it would be. Once the pandemic struck, we approached church leaders, local shops, councillors and service users to identify vulnerable members of our community and, as we had expected, helped one another to support those in need.


What challenges has your sector, or the community that you work with, been facing over the last six months or so? The biggest challenges faced are a reduction in income and mental health issues. Those already struggling on minimum wage incomes or zero-hour contracts saw their incomes fall by 20% through due to being furloughed which has had a devastating effect for many on their ability to pay bills. This had had a spiralling effect as more and more people are worrying about financial issues so suffering mental ill-health.


How are you feeling about the next six months? What opportunities/challenges do you foresee, what do you need to be able to move forward and in order to flourish after the last several months? The issue with lockdown two will further exacerbate issues. More people will lose their ability to pay bills, The winter months will see more home heating being used as people are forced to remain in their homes and the worry will lead to an explosion in mental health issues, which we are already seeing.


What is your proudest moment from the work you’ve done in your community? Our small team of three managed to deliver almost 30% of all food parcels distributed by Walsall Council. We also delivered over 1000 hot meals to vulnerable and shielding members of the community. The coronavirus help app we created with our over 70s group remains the only privately created app in the world approved by Google that is not from the WHO. It has recently gained a prestigious award from the Ivy League University MIT, winning the adult section of their Global Corona Virus App Challenge Competition.


Through the pandemic, we have looked to support all the social businesses that have residence within the community hub to continue to exist. We are proud of our ability to support business and we have several new social enterprises taking up residence within the hub.


Is there anything in particular that you would like to add about how your organisation has worked within and across communities during the COVID-19 pandemic? We are continuing our work of the last 20 years that sees us respond to the needs of the local community. Being a small team, we can adapt and respond to the needs of the community we serve. Following extensive consultation, we are currently undertaking debt management training and energy awareness training to provide further help and support to the community.