As part of our open call to Share your Story, we received this #SpiritOfLockdown collection from the Local Area Coordinators in Swansea. These seven people tell us about their experience and their journeys of the past turbulent year.

Hands holding

Charlotte’s story

As a Red Cross worker, Charlotte was already aware of the Local Area Coordination team and became one of the first neighbours in her community to offer support.

Charlotte has been supporting some of her neighbours by doing regular food shopping and collecting prescriptions.

“I feel there is a new community spirit and that this pandemic has brought people together more. I have delivered two parcels to one woman who is quite poorly and she has burst into tears with gratitude on both occasions. I just wanted to hug her but couldn’t. On another occasion, I delivered a prescription to a woman who keeps chickens and came away with a dozen free range eggs. It is nice to meet new people in the area”.

Charlotte

Sarah’s story

Reading a post on a local Facebook group, Sarah was keen to get involved and started helping immediately. She supported a local leaflet drop in her community, regularly picks up prescriptions for neighbours and is a shopping buddy for a local family. 

“The shopping is the tricky one, you have a list but quickly come to realise that milk on a list does not give you any idea on what size and then later you find the cat will only eat a certain brand, so you learn to look at the list and ask questions on the doorstep before heading off.”

Sarah

Sarah feels she has got a lot out of her role as a Street Champion.

“I am fairly new to the area and I have met more people in the last few weeks than the past year by building connections in the community and getting to know my neighbours. I think some good could come from all this. It all feels very supportive, well planned and organised”.

Sarah

Anne-Marie’s story

“I got involved by contacting a community Facebook page which was set up just before lockdown. We first organised a leaflet drop of the area to contact those not on Facebook. I have since been involved with prescription delivery, which was crazy at the start but much less now. I also shop for 8 households regularly, including a weekly shop for someone shielding. On Easter Sunday, I was planning to cook a roast dinner for myself and thought maybe a few others would appreciate a Sunday lunch too. I now do that regularly for four older people who do not have the dexterity to cook easily for themselves and I also deliver them too. I have gotten to meet new people as a result and have developed new friendships. I do get asked why I do it. It is a difficult question to answer. It’s just a desire to help and it has made the period more bearable and helped me to cope too. It is a nice feeling knowing you have helped someone, particularly those feeling anxious and lacking confidence.

I feel there is a new sense of community spirit and we are now looking towards and planning for the future post lockdown. Plans are moving ahead to look at luncheon clubs and other community activities to keep people connected. It so happens that this coincided with a career break for me and it has opened my eyes to other potential community work I could enter into in the longer term”.

Anne-Marie

Melissa’s story

“I joined my community Facebook page plus another for my street, set up by a neighbour. People were already going into isolation before lockdown. I registered my willingness to help and about 2 weeks into lockdown I was contacted by the Local Area Coordination Team.

I have been helping with shopping and prescription delivery and phone calls to those who are isolated. I have been shopping for one lady who is 89 years old. One day I took her a bunch of flowers, it meant so much to her that she got very tearful. She was on the doorstep and I sat on the garden wall talking. It was VE Day and it occurred to me that she had also lived through the Second World War. She told me she was only a child so going into the Anderson Shelter was just a bit of excitement, and that she was never scared then, but she is now. It was quite moving and that statement has stayed with me since.

On my street, I have been organising a bingo session every Friday evening. I put the books at the end of the drive and use a loudspeaker to call out the numbers. I am fairly new to the area and I think my neighbours are thinking I may be a little bit crazy. 

I have got to know more people and the area. Some people have been so thoughtful and small things and acts of kindness can be so important. Just looking forward to having a cup of tea with people I have supported when it is all over.”

Melissa

Trudy’s story

I had never met Beth, the Local Area Coordinator before. I got in touch with her to find out what community support was already happening in the area once lockdown hit, and to tell her about the support that I and my neighbours were thinking of providing to local people.

My husband and I jumped into action as soon as we had news that people were to self-isolate. We started talking to as many neighbours as possible (at a distance) to ensure that everyone knew help was near. This led to all sorts of things being set up to support the community, including;

  • A community book swap, to ensure that people who are isolating and bored at home have the opportunity to pass the time by getting their head into a good book.
  • Giving away seeds, for people to grow in their gardens, with the aim of supporting both mental and physical wellbeing during isolation.
  • A food collection box outside their home, to donate to the local food bank.
  • Supporting people with gardening and maintaining their outside spaces.
I think these small, informal acts of kindness have a had massive impact on the lives of those isolating in the community.

I have enjoyed getting to know my community more during this time. I’m meeting more people, and conversations are getting longer and more diverse with neighbours and people I have met over the last few weeks.

There is definitely more of a community feel in the area due to what is happening at the moment with lockdown and social distancing. I just hope we can expand and continue with this especially when things start to return to some sort of normality…

The old values have definitely started to come back into communities, albeit in very difficult circumstances. I can honestly say the people in my town are fantastic, they have been so generous and have also been looking out for one another which is the main thing, it is called community spirit, brilliant!

Pam and Dan’s story

Pam is a Street Champion and, along with her husband Dan, has been delivering food bank parcels from Waunarlydd food bank to residents around the area every Tuesday and Thursday. Dan did the driving and carrying whilst Pam took care of the map reading and door knocking, and the quick friendly chat on the doorstep. As time went on they found themselves chatting more and more and developing relationships with those who were shielded.

At the start, it was a very ‘grateful thank you’. As time went on the chats become longer, and people opened up as for some it was the only contact they had. One woman who is quite young was shielding and obviously quite ill.

When the food bank closed, I was concerned about her and phoned her to tell her the situation and offered to go shopping instead. It was only then we discovered how ill she was and were horrified that she did not have some support in place. I think she opened up about how serious her situation was only because we had built up a relationship with her over the past few months. I immediately phoned Lynne (LAC) and after some phone calls the situation was resolved and proper support put in place.

We have both enjoyed giving something back to the community and value the new friendships we have made.

Pam and Dan

Emma and Steve’s story

The following story highlights the impact of Local Area Coordination in Swansea during Covid. Emma, a Local Area Coordinator, holds strong relationships with local people and groups in the community she serves.

When the pandemic hit, Emma was able to draw on those connections and gently steer community energy, connecting the dots between people with a focus on inclusivity.

For example, Steve, someone Emma was alongside prior to the pandemic, was living with sight loss. Steve’s mother, who he used to live with, had moved into residential care some months before. Self-isolation meant Steve became disconnected from his community. Emma knew of a creative writing group that was developing online. She thought Steve might be interested as she knew he was passionate about the local area and telling his story. She brokered an introduction with the group. Steve quickly built natural friendships with local people who began helping out with shopping etc. Sadly, Steve’s mother passed recently.

His new friends are supporting him and making a positive and practical difference during this difficult time. Emma has remained present in Steve’s life throughout, keeping in touch and is there when needed.

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