By Shereen Devine and Rachel Evans

We are six months in, and the pandemic continues to highlight loneliness, isolation and the frustrations that come with the lockdown. To address these issues, local colleagues are looking into reviving the Pembrokeshire Befriending Network. In the meantime, we continue to provide support for people who are still shielding due to COVID. Although shielding restrictions have been eased, we find that many people are still apprehensive about venturing out into the community. We are so pleased that our wonderful volunteers have stayed on board and continue to provide telephone befriending, deliver shopping and medication. We receive some of our referrals directly from a pharmacy; we are pleased to have this community connection, and hope we can continue to work together in the future.

We welcome a new member to the team; Debbie will be working on the Volunteer Lifeline Responders project in Pembrokeshire; Debbie will manage a group of volunteers who can respond to the lifeline’s emergency call button. Like many local authorities across Wales, people are only eligible to receive a lifeline call button if they have a designated contact, and we know that some of our most vulnerable people do not have that support network. This is completely new work for us and we and our partners will be monitoring its impact. Although Debbie is not working directly with Rural Wisdom, her role supports those people who are affected by loneliness and isolation, so I am sure we are going to hear a lot more from Debbie in the future. 

We are excited that the links between Rural Wisdom in Wales and Scotland are strengthening through a shared passion in community transport. See PACTO’s fun video highlighting achievements in Pembroke shire: https://youtu.be/fBZFoFoynhU

Earlier in the year, we were delighted to be offered the opportunity to have a presence in the Holway Hub House. The house is a converted property within the Holway that will provide advice and support to community members from a wide selection of local authority and third sector organisations. We jumped at the idea, as this is a fantastic opportunity to engage directly with community members and build connections with other agencies. Thinking holistically, we considered who would access support here and what barriers we could remove to make it more accessible, and of course, aesthetically appealing. We want to ensure that both younger and older generations feel comfortable at the point of walking through the gate.

Back in February, we were delighted when we came across a funding opportunity with Keep Wales Tidy and were pleased to support The Friends of The Holway with an application for a Butterfly Garden. We were successful in our application; however like many things, COVID put this on hold.

We had planned to have an intergenerational event, learning about the plants and identifying bugs, with a bit of food and entertainment. After consideration, we have put planting the seeds on hold and remain hopeful that we will be able to bring the community together then. In the meantime, we were delighted to welcome Shane from Keep Wales Tidy, who kindly assembled the main section of the butterfly garden with direction from our Community Champion Edna, and County councillor Paul.

Although this is not the event we hoped for, it is still exciting as it is the first phase of the development for the Community Hub House garden.  We have big plans for the space, including a vegetable patch and fruit trees, and have lots of plans to bring the community together. Of course, anything that cost money relies on funds being available, so we have already begun applying for the next round of funding and are coming up with ideas to raise the funds.

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