Annual Report 2020
Cromarty Care Project Annual report AGM November 2020
What a year 2020 has proved to be. At our AGM last year I reflected in the annual report on the three strands of our activity which were – homecare, cycling without age and table tennis for dementia prevention – never dreaming the activities that were to be actioned during the months of lockdown due to the Covid pandemic.
On the evening of March 16th 2020, the day of warnings from government about the need for shielding and self isolation ,the trustees met and urgent plans were put in place. It was apparent that some people would need to have groceries delivered to them. The whole town was leafleted, asking for delivery volunteers and explaining to those who wanted the service how to register. Within 4 days of the initial meeting 80 offers of help had been received. Fiona Grist, one of the trustees and Gill Hubbard, a volunteer, took on the role of training volunteers, writing protocols and organising a rota. By March 20th a system was in place to delivery groceries.
Funding was applied for to help support the cost of the delivery service and we are grateful to the North Highland Initiative for the £1000 received from them. This has helped support the Cromarty Stores, who took on additional staff to pick the telephoned order and bag them for the volunteers to then deliver.
Without the goodwill of the Cromarty Stores and all the volunteers plus the relentless work of the trustees this swift action to help local residents would not have been possible. We were also working closely with the community council and there was some mention that Highland Council may offer support but we decided not to wait but to get stuck in straightaway.
A newspaper delivery service was also set up with the help of local young people and it became a source of contact for those isolated in particular. Many enjoyed seeing young people on bikes or pushing a pram full of papers – some youngsters did the paper round with one of their parents and it was viewed by them as a ‘special time’.
The footfall in the shop was reduced by these measures and the staff were protected by screens which we actioned.
At the same time we were approached by a representative of the Karen Napier Fund, a constituent fund of Foundation Scotland, with an offer of £5000 to help those with loss of income due to Covid to access food. A small group was set up to work out a policy and a food voucher scheme was launched. Posters were put up and social media used to advertise it. The only criteria for qualifying for the vouchers was a sudden loss of income due to Covid. We ended up supporting over 30 families which meant 90 people were receiving £20 a week for 16 weeks.
On the day that the posters went up I had a call from the Cromarty Parish church offering us a further £5000 and within 24 hours the cheque was received.
We are so grateful that local money was available that could be so quickly actioned.
CCP has had to defend the scheme – we were questioned as to why we were not means testing and what if people were already in receipt of benefits - however we strongly felt that the process should be based on trust and if there was need then we should aim to help.
We went back to the Karen Napier Fund and in all received £15,000 from it. We have personally thanked Russell Napier, who set up the fund in memory of his late wife, by inviting him and his wife for lunch with a few trustees – Covid restrictions made this difficult and it was a shame that more of us could not be present. Kyrie James, who lives in Rosemarkie, has been instrumental in helping Russell to get money from his fund out into communities and we are very grateful for her help and support.
For the food voucher scheme, we also received further money from Foundation Scotland, the Church of Scotland and Scottish Government. In all we dispersed £28,900 in food vouchers and have received many unsolicited emails of thanks from local residents.
As you can imagine these weeks of giving out a weekly sum of about £1700 was stressful as we kept our eyes on spreadsheets and making funding applications. Thank you to Brenda Monk our treasurer who kept all the figures so accurately and providing information for applications and then verifying to funders what we had spent. Thank you to Nigel for all the work he did I liaising with Russell Napier and with Kyrie James and also making applications to Foundation Scotland. We are very grateful for local residents who donated money too at this time.
I have to mention Meg Shaw, a trustee, for weeks of spreadsheets as she managed the applications for the food vouchers - making contact with individuals who were often very embarrassed about the difficulties that they were facing. Thank you for your kind and caring approach, for your professionalism and just coping with my phone calls and emails too. Meg also rang those who were isolated and checked in with them to offer a listening ear. Contact from CCP was offered to those registering for food deliveries if they wished it.
Alongside all these ventures were weekly meetings for community groups across the Black Isle set up by Gordon Adam, a Highland Councillor. I am very grateful for Nigel’s involvement in these meetings and for his decision to also put himself forward as a community councillor. These meetings have enabled CCP to understand what role Highland Council were taking in terms of support for communities and how this could be accessed and also how we could apply for Scottish Government money which was being held by Black Isle Partnership on behalf of Highland and Island Enterprise.
These meetings also helped us to realise the benefits that CCP has in terms of being a registered charity, having a bank account but also broad objectives. Because of these three things we have been able to act independently and quickly to get help to those in need of it quickly and decisively. Crucially the clear thinking of the trustees has meant that we have been able to put these three factors into use. I have to thank all the trustees for their support, for answering emails quickly when decisions have needed to be made,for coping with meetings via zoom and for endlessly coming up with ideas and suggestions to benefit local people.
Due to the restrictions of us all meeting together various small meetings were held over the weeks - often I felt the need to meet with one or two trustees for support as decisions were needed to be made so fast as the situation was evolving. At one such small meeting in Nigel’s garden , Shirley happened to mention the issue of families struggling to buy clothing ,shoes and equipment for the start of the school term. I went away and ruminated on this – how could we help with this – could a voucher scheme work ? Buying lots of shoes would not work. The early one morning I decided we would have to give money and I cycled over to Brenda’s – arriving as she was having breakfast with her family – sorry Brenda -but she agreed that we must do something and she agreed to administer it. I went back to all the trustees and it was agreed that £100 a child for those who applied and again the only criteria was ‘would this money be of help – having a loss of income due to Covid”, In the end we supported 42 children in their return to school.
CCP had decided that we would go with this project with existing funds but I thought after a few days we should apply to the Black Isle Partnership for funding and we did get a grant of £2400 and I am pleased to say that this project was rolled out across the Black Isle.
We have also supported the Primary School with equipment that they needed to provide for the children to be safe - individual stationary packs and play equipment.
The head teacher has recently contacted us for help to provide waterproof clothing for all the children in the school so that more education can take place outside during the winter months. The trustees agreed to fund this and the headmistress is going ahead with purchases for all the children – so that there will be equality and no one will stand out as using school clothing.
CCP has worked with the community council to bring an outpost of the Inverness Foodbank to Cromarty. The Food boxes are stored in the CCP office.
As I write this report Scotland is in the grip of a second wave of the virus. There are concerns about social isolation and what will happen to folk at Christmas when families are not able to get together. CCP continues to have ears to the ground to find out how people are coping and to try to find ways of helping.
CCP continues to provide an office with phone and Wifi for the home care staff. Highland Home carers have completely taken over organising the rota. There is only one member of staff, who does have a contract and agency staff are put in to cover her days off and holidays. We continue to help with recruitment and when Covid restrictions ease would like to add more support for the clients – taking them out etc. I continue to be in touch with HHC and recently had a meeting with one of the local GPs asking them to continue meeting regularly with home care staff .
We will continue to be advocates for social care within Cromarty ,for both staff and clients. CCP has written to Kate Forbes MSP to raise the issue of poor rates of pay for social care workers and zero hour contracts.
Cycling without Age
The Cycling Without Age trikes were out at least three times a week over the winter, with regular shopping and social trips. We started a weekly visit to Shoremills Care Home, which the residents loved, but stopped when the weather became too cold. The trikes were also used for events including the Cromarty Community Market and with the addition of some lights for use in the evening they were a big hit at the Cromarty Film Festival. Everything came to a standstill in March with the Covid-19 pandemic. With the current second spike of Covid-19 and the winter coming on the decision has been taken to store the trikes over the winter and start afresh in Spring 2021.
Trike storage in the Sheddie at the Victoria Hall was agreed with the Community Council and Victoria Hall Committee in February. However, this agreement was not able to be implemented because of the lockdown. Following discussion with Duncan Bowers we have decided to wait until the trikes are used again in spring 2021 before taking up this offer. We are grateful to David and Susan Kent for the continued use of their garage for storage.
As the trikes are not currently being used, they are serviced once a month, rather than once a week, by Aidan McCann. I am currently in discussion with Wanda Mackay youth worker regarding a replacement for Aidan who will no doubt go off to University in 2021.
20 October 2020
Table tennis sessions were running regularly and were well supported until Covid hit.In recent weeks a group of keen players have gone to Resolis to use the outdoor tables there. We will resume sessions in the West Church Hall as soon as we are allowed.
CCP has been a charity for 5 years and it is almost as if the first 4 were a dress rehearsal for what we have been able to achieve this year. We have acted swiftly and decisively. I am so grateful for all the trustees for their support and hardwork this year but also for the community of Cromarty – without the volunteers who gave of their time, delivering food and newspapers day in day out we would not have been able to operate.
A booklet celebrating our wonderful community during the crisis was produced with the help of Liz Broumley. We are very pleased with the result and a copy was delivered to each home in Cromarty.
As we look forward to the coming year we wonder what it will bring. CCP has been nominated for the Queen’s award for voluntary groups and we will be interviewed very soon as part of the selection process. We may need to act again to provide grocery /newspaper deliveries if infection rates increase.
Money was made available to us very quickly at the onset of the crisis and this was invaluable as we did not receive any from the government until almost 3 months after the onset of the crisis. We took the decision to set up a Crisis Fund for Cromarty and donations have started to be received.
We look hopefully into the coming 12 months that life may return to something of normality and that we can start meeting in groups face to face again and to be able to help more easily those who are so isolated.
Jill Stoner Chair