The Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services has said that community activity that emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic must be built on in work for the future.
The Minister and Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services recently attended a meeting with voluntary sector representatives as part of the Third Sector Scheme. In it, the sector spoke at length and gave examples of some of its work to support communities during the pandemic. This included the work of CVCs in supporting pop-up community activity such as prescription collection and food deliveries, as well as helping people access digital support, and the work of Kidney Wales in forming partnerships to support patients with digital and hard copy information and online events.
The Deputy Minister said the ‘non-managed’ activity of communities during this period should be built upon, and the voluntary sector is crucial in doing this effectively.
The Minister and Deputy Minister then heard about issues faced by community transport providers during the pandemic, including more clarity on what a volunteer driver scheme looks like. The group also discussed issues about the definition of ‘health and social care workers’, with the sector asking for more clarity as to whether this includes voluntary sector workers. Sector representatives felt there was a lack of clarity on this, and it is crucial this is resolved as the vaccine rollout programme continues.
The meeting also discussed the need to create systems that support long-term planning and investment, particularly in smaller organisations, and that it’s important now to start planning for life after the pandemic. The Deputy Minister referenced Welsh Government’s new White Paper, which proposes a framework on health and social care and a stronger voice for the voluntary sector on Regional Partnership Boards.
Problems with wider health inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic, and a potential upsurge in mental health problems, were also highlighted at the meeting.
Voluntary sector organisations at the meeting included Children In Wales, Welsh Sports Association, the All Wales Forum of Parents and Carers, Interlink RCT and Mind Cymru, among others.