Katie and Fraser Geddes with leaflets from Art Machine Shetland banner image

How a Community Council in Shetland is Supporting its Community during Covid-19

How a Community Council in Shetland is supporting their community during Covid-19

Katie (6) and Fraser Geddes (8) helped out with delivering leaflets provided by local company Art Machine Shetland.A Community Council in Shetland are able to provide funding to groups and charities supporting people in their community through the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities fund.

Gulberwick, Quarff and Cunningsburgh Community Council were awarded a £12,000 coronavirus support grant which they are using to help vulnerable people in their community.  This includes providing home cooked meals, emergency food packs and even some iPads for care residents.

The Community Council (CC) has been letting people know what support is available in the area and its also been looking for potential volunteers to help out.

The CC is providing a donation to Shetland Foodbank as well as funds for Shetland Women’s Aid to help pay for Wi-Fi installation in its refuge. Funds will also be put towards supermarket and electricity vouchers for people arriving in the refuge and go towards the production of support/wellbeing packs for clients who are unable to meet face to face.

Some iPads have also been purchased for the Overtonlea care centre to be used by residents to stay in touch with family and friends as they have not been able to receive visitors during lockdown.  A care at home goody bag and a ‘keeping connected’ CD of songs is also being provided.  The iPads were sourced from local company The Apple Cart.

Amanda Malcolmson, Team Leader - Overtonlea Services, receiving iPads purchased by the CC on their behalf.Amanda Malcolmson, Team Leader - Overtonlea Services, receiving iPads purchased by the CC on their behalf.Cunningsburgh cafe and local farm shop Mackenzie’s cook and supply 20 free ‘home-cooked’ meals every week which are delivered by volunteers to vulnerable residents, key workers and those living alone.

Chairperson Kerry Geddes tells us more: “People have been really looking forward to their Friday lunch and the portions are so big some individuals have been keeping half of it for Saturday too. While there will be some who are unable to purchase food or cook for themselves who benefit from the meals, we have a lot of people who are getting them simply because they are lonely, missing out on family dinners or are stressed and worried because of the pandemic. We have had a few cancer patients who have benefitted, as well as some people who are cared for by relatives - the meal gives their carers a break as well as letting the folk themselves know that they have friends or neighbours who are still thinking of them.”

Emergency food and hygiene packs for people going in or out of hospital are also available as well as packs for families with babies.

Mobile phone vouchers and electricity tokens supported by local shop Mackenzie’s and Sound Service Station have been delivered by groups of volunteers in each area too.  The volunteers carry out the deliveries as part of their daily exercise as they visit each home to explain what help is available whilst observing social distancing guidelines.

A leaflet is also delivered to every household in the CC’s area once a month with the latest information.  The CC uses local companies as much as possible to support them during the pandemic and the leaflets were designed and printed by Art Machine Shetland.

A rota of volunteers have also been on the end of newly purchased mobile phones in each of the CCs three areas - they take phone calls for help or assistance and they are also there just to listen.

Chairperson Kerry Geddes said: “With the support of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and staff at Shetland Islands Council Community Development we were able to pull together a few schemes and projects which we thought would be of most benefit to people in our community and fortunately we were successful in our bid for a grant from the Supporting Communities Fund.

“Shetlanders have always been reluctant to ask for help but the fact that you can be nominated by a friend, colleague, neighbour or family member or referred by any group, charity or official means our uptake has been growing.”

“We have been able to support several local organisations and charities already supporting vulnerable people in our community, but also came up with our own ideas for projects. Local shops have been really supportive in schemes to get emergency food packs, fuel vouchers and mobile phone top ups out, and our hot meals on Fridays has been immensely popular, so much so it has been extended into another district.”

For more information:

Gulberwick, Quarff and Cunningsburgh Community Council website

Gulberwick, Quarff & Cunningsburgh Community Council Facebook

Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund

Highlands and Islands Enterprise Shetland

Art Machine Shetland website

Shetland Food Bank Facebook

Shetland Women’s Aid website

Sound Service Station Facebook