The #OneSlough initiative was created at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Bringing together, the voluntary, and business sectors and faith communities, with Slough Borough Council, resources and skills were combined, to deliver essential services to Slough residents. Together they met on a weekly online call, to work out the logistics of this huge endeavour.
Almost a year on, this forum continues to take place, identifying the ever-changing needs of the community from a grassroots level. An incredible 12,273 food parcels and 708 prescriptions have been delivered by volunteers to the vulnerable; a massive achievement by everyone involved.
Whilst food parcels and prescriptions are still necessities for some, other needs have surfaced. Domestic violence, unemployment and poverty have increased in the town and as a result several projects, funded from donations received by Slough Giving, have been established.
Solving problems arising from COVID-19
The problems from rising unemployment and increasing poverty has required innovative solutions.
#OneSlough members realised that with unemployment comes a lot of other personal issues to deal with, so devised a 4-week Wellbeing and Employment Programme, to help people to regain their confidence, as well as providing them with the practical skills to find a new job.
#OneSlough groups have set up Facebook support groups for those looking for work, as well as those facing domestic abuse problems.
Another practical solution is the #On Slough Furniture Project, where donated furniture is given to families who are facing eviction and forced house moves.
The volunteer Wellbeing Friend initiative started in April 2020 and are informal social telephone calls that support residents who are elderly and/or self-isolating (do you have to be elderly – isn’t it now all vulnerable, isolated and lonely residents?). The calls have proved to be beneficial to boththe volunteers and the individuals.
Communicating with all Slough residents
Slough is very diverse and densely populated, with a large seldom heard community. They were identified early on as being at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, than other groups, and communication was key to keeping COVID-19 numbers down. #OneSlough acted quickly, and engaged with local community leaders, producing messaging specifically for them. The #OneSlough Tuk Tuk has been a common sight in Slough, taking health messages into the community. This work was extended to all residents, with #OneSlough Community Champions, where residents have signed up to receive trusted information, provided by Public Health Slough, often in community languages, to pass on to their family and friends, neighbours and communities, via social media and word of mouth.
Getting the whole town protected through vaccination
#OneSlough has been supporting the NHS with volunteers at the Slough vaccination centres since December 2020, to help the town get vaccinated and tested. Over 2,000 volunteers have signed up to become #OneSlough volunteers. The volunteers have been keen and enthusiastic and have told us how much it means to them, to not just help our most vulnerable residents, but also help our local heroes - our key workers - get vaccinated.
This work continues with the Community Wellbeing Project, to promote vaccine uptake amongst hard-to-reach communities in Slough showing low rates of COVID-19 vaccine uptake.
#OneSlough Community Fund
The #OneSlough Community Fund, funded by Slough Borough Council [do we not gain donations for this fund and distribute the funds as Slough CVS?], to support local voluntary and community groups to deliver projects to meet local needs/priorities that will benefit Slough residents to enhance their health and wellbeing.
Projects tackle key priorities including supporting the vulnerable, carers, providing opportunities to support and reduce social isolation, increasing skills and employment opportunities, reducing poverty and improving health inequalities including mental wellbeing.
#OneSlough is recognised nationally as an exemplary model of partnership working and will continue, while COVID-19 impacts residents’ lives [and beyond?].
We aim to work together with neighbourhoods and individuals in Slough to provide services that are better designed to serve local health and social care needs.
We can achieve this by:
- Implementing effective and sustainable community-led approaches, particularly in areas of greatest need.
- Engaging and investing in people to build and strengthen good health and wellbeing for their communities.
- Building confidence, knowledge, skills and capacity of local people.
- Working in partnerships with local organisations and agencies to provide volunteering and employment opportunities.