In November 2020 the Cambrian Line Community Rail Partnership launched a one-off grant fund in order to support community organisations along the line to remain active and sustainable. We have been revisiting these organisations to find out how they are recovering from the effects of the pandemic and how the fund has helped them to continue their hard work for the communities they serve.
Borth Community Hub was a thriving Family Centre prior to March 2020, supporting around 600 people a year in a variety of intergenerational activities. During lockdown they have co-ordinated the emergency warden response delivering food and essential items to vulnerable residents, families and elderly. To ease the isolation felt by many the hub undertook weekly calls to the elderly and delivered family art, craft and gardening growing activity packs.
By the end of March 2021, the project funding was due to run out and although they had enough supplies to last through the funding gap, from March 2021 to May 2021 when they hoped to receive a National Lottery Grant, they were not able to pay staff. Maintaining their staff was vitally important for the success of these projects as they were responsible for co-ordinating volunteers, assisting older people with complex needs, providing digital support and delivering art therapy sessions.
Since receiving the grant from the Cambrian Railway Partnership staff have been able to run a variety of activities for older adults. These activities included a variety of art and craft workshops with a qualified art therapist. The sessions were held outside under their shelter whenever restrictions allowed. At times they returned to delivering art packs and resources to people in their own homes.
Helen Williams, Manager for the Borth Community Hub said, “It (the grant) enabled us to continue the work we started in the pandemic to support elderly people and to reduce loneliness and isolation. The funding had expired and so it filled in an important gap between funding. It enabled us to start to bring people back to face-to-face groups albeit outside at such an important time in the pandemic when many were struggling with the effects of being on their own for so long.”
Speaking about how the funding has helped to sustain their organisation making it more resilient, Helen said, “It helped us keep essential services going and enabled us to have time to secure further long-term funding.”
Helen added, “It’s great to know that the railway has an interest in the welfare and health and wellbeing of people who live along its route.”
We hope to revisit many more of the 24 organisations who received funding from the Partnership across 4 counties; Gwynedd, Shropshire, Powys and Ceredigion. Special thanks to Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (PAVO) who administered the fund and Ceredigion Association of Voluntary Organisations (CAVO) who helped deliver the fund.