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Interim report from Caring for the Community Conference 

Interim report 21/9/2022

There were 17 delegates at the conference with 15 organisations including Rotary represented with at least 5 other organisations saying they are interested but could not attend on Saturday.

The Rotary volunteers did a wonderful job in helping to set up and clearing away, to welcome our visitors and to organise and serve breakfast and refreshments.  It looked really professional! We need to thank Annick; Claire; Carolyn; Linda; Glenys and of course President Graham for their unstinting help and commitment.

A full report will be sent out by the end of the week plus a press release for both Rotary District and the local press outlets will be available. It was agreed by all that we should continue to work together and try and establish a working model for the “Community Hub”.

Key decisions;

  1. Agree on distribution and sharing of organisation details and contacts.
    To be sent out with the report
  2. Establish an online portal / website / Facebook presence for Forum members to share information; news and events and to flag up concerns and issue
    [ Consult Steve & set up a small Working party]
  3. To use the Forum to raise awareness of the work of members and to advertise activities and events; to assist fundraising and increase participation 
    [Administration initially from Rotary]
    Suggested co-ordination of Community Boards and display spaces for joint activities
  4. Use the Forum to develop partnership and joint projects and activities e.g. meeting the challenge of Winter hardships etc.
  5. Use the forum as a means of lobbying to secure additional funding in the future
  6. Arrange to sustain co-operation and partnership development by agreeing to meet together in the future.

Key Issues:

All groups had a chance to introduce themselves and to outline their work and challenges. The most urgent issues are:

  • Food bank is facing increasing demand and now having moved to Barnsgate need 
    More donations in cash and goods
    More volunteers – possibly to deliver to local families
    CAB are cutting back / stopping future referrals to food bank due to high levels of demand for their services
    A number of organisations need more volunteers
  • While the local churches can offer some additional spaces for voluntary groups there was still concern over facilities and the capacity to improve and develop existing spaces. Additional worry was cost of heating and energy bills etc
  • Concerns about those in need not yet reached and especially the impact of poor mental health for a significant number of people accessing support.
  • Need to ensure Town Council and Wealden are aware of the Community Forum and we need to secure on-going support for the Community Forum. (Report will be sent to the Council)

Positive news:

  • There are a lot of really good initiatives from often the smaller organisations (detailed in full report)
  • Most organisations delivering support have some support from fund raiser groups such as Tesco; Rotary etc but would welcome more co-ordinated and linked approach to fund raising
  • There is strong commitment to work together and to use contacts to run joined up projects etc.

Suggested Next Steps:

  1. Initially use organisation contact lists to let all members know key dates; events; needs etc
    Phil will co-ordinate at this stage.
  2. Establish a small cross organisation working group to look at online website / portal plus any co-ordinated action. Phil to action
  3. 2 suggested activities to involve all in the Community Forum
    • Designated week / fortnight in October to have a whole town collection and fundraising for the food bank before Winter sets in.
    Plus a push on advertising for more volunteers
    • Making Christmas possible.  Using the Community Hub to do a major fundraising and collection of Christmas toys; books and treats so that all those who are on the books of our partner organisations can have something special at Christmas. 
    This can include Rotary’s plans for shoebox type project
    Other groups may want to hold special events – e.g. Dementia Alliance may want to put on a Christmas party and need help and money
    • We may need to consider how the Community Hub can help with cold weather impact this Winter – provision of warm clothing; establishing warm spaces; hot food etc.
    Could require a further meeting.