First online event for Ross-on-Wye Community Development Trust – 22 October 2020

This Thursday (22 October), the Ross-on-Wye Community Development Trust will launch the first in a series of live Facebook events designed to connect more effectively with the community and to address local issues affecting Ross-on-Wye and Herefordshire.

The topic for this week’s free online event – starting at 6pm on www.facebook.com/rosscdt – will be ‘Keeping Ross-on-Wye Safe’ and will cover how the threat of a second wave of coronavirus and a possible UK-wide lockdown will be handled locally and what the community can do to prevent further spread.

Dr Simon Lennane, GP and Clinical Primary Care Network Director, will be joined by Dr Sarah Aitken, a senior public health director with experience of coronavirus hotspot areas in Wales and Cllr Jane Roberts, Chair of the Ross-on-Wye Community Development Trust. If you have a question for the panel, you can email comms@rosscdt.org.uk in advance of the event, or send your questions in via their Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Dr Lennane commented: “We’re aiming to answer as many questions as we can, covering Covid-19 and how we can stay safe. We hope that this week’s live Q&A session will be the first of many regular online video events connecting the community.  Live events such as this offer a way to rebuild some of the connections we are all missing. Future topics will be led by local organisations, allowing us to discuss local issues and highlight the support available in our community.”

If you would like to receive more information about the Ross-on-Wye Community Development Trust and to receive latest updates in your news feed, including information on future live Facebook events, simply ‘like’ our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/rosscdt and follow us on Twitter, @Ross_CDT.

Ross Good Neighbours combatting loneliness in the community

Today (10 October) marks World Mental Health Day and the message is clear – it is vital that we look after each other now more than ever, particularly with local lockdowns on the increase across the UK. Loneliness is one of the major contributors to mental health issues and Ross Good Neighbours continues its good work in the community to combat loneliness with its Buddy Scheme, ensuring the vulnerable and isolated in our community are not forgotten.

A 2020 report by the Mental Health Foundation who organises World Mental Health Day, revealed that almost a quarter of adults living in lockdown in the UK have felt loneliness and warns of a long-term risk to mental health of loneliness. Surprisingly, the most affected group were young people aged 18 to 24 years with more than 44% saying they felt lonely, whilst one in six older people aged over 55 said they had felt lonely as a result of coronavirus. Lockdown and social distancing has meant we need to connect with each other in other ways and the charity advises that “Now, more than ever, is the time to keep up those strong social networks that act like a buffer against poor mental health. Staying in touch via video calls, Whatsapp or just regular phone calls, is vital. Keep up your routines where possible and if you’re not tech savvy, regular phone calls, messages or even writing letters are lovely ways to show someone that you’re thinking of them.“

Ross Good Neighbours’ Buddy Scheme was set up by Jane Roberts, Chair of the Ross Community Development Trust, to combat loneliness in the community. Volunteers in and around Ross are being encouraged to join the scheme which aims to look after people who either find themselves isolated due to the coronavirus or who are vulnerable and unable to perform daily chores such as shopping, light gardening, simple tasks like changing lightbulbs or caring for their pets.

Jane commented: “We are keen to hear from anyone who can spare a few hours a month to become a Neighbourhood Buddy. You can either email help@rosscdt.org.uk or call our Message Line on 01989 313002 leaving your details. Having regular contact with the outside world is essential to combat loneliness and improve mental health – our volunteers are literally a lifeline to a lot of people and they may be the only interaction they receive from one week to the next.

The Ross Community Development Trust’s ‘Phone Friends’ service, which has now transferred over to Age UK in Ross-on-Wye, is a great way for isolated people to receive a regular friendly phone call via Age UK’s ‘Companion Line’. If you, or someone you know, could benefit from a regular chat, contact Laura Simnett, Age UK’s Volunteer Support Officer for Ross-on-Wye on 01989 567165 or drop her an email at lsimnett@ageukhw.org.uk.

Ross Community Development Trust presents at national conference

The work of Ross Community Development Trust featured at a national conference – ‘Passionate People Making a Positive Difference’ – run by the organisation Community Catalysts. Ross CDT trustees Jane Roberts and Dr Simon Lennane were both invited to discuss how Ross CDT came into being and to answer questions from participants interested in setting up a similar group in their own communities.

Ross CDT was originally set up to provide an infrastructure to support the local voluntary sector and unlock the potential of the community in Ross-on-Wye. The charity also aims to build a sense of neighbourliness in the town via its Ross Good Neighbours scheme. Jane Roberts, Chair of Ross CDT, explained: “There is so much on offer from volunteers and groups in Ross, yet not everyone knows what’s available. Ross CDT wants to link up volunteers to people who need help and make sure that voluntary services are more widely known about by health and social care providers.”

Simon Lennane, Ross-on-Wye GP and PCN Director, described how linking with the voluntary sector helps patients. “Many of the problems we see in the surgery are not primarily medical in origin, and as a GP I may not always be the best person to help. I wanted to forge stronger links with our local voluntary organisations, who are often much better placed than me to support individuals”.

The role of Ross CDT in responding to the Covid crisis was also discussed at the conference, delivering food and medicines to those shielding as well as phone support. There was a lot of interest from the conference participants in developing a Good Neighbour scheme similar to the one launched in Ross-on-Wye.

A video created for the conference is available to view on the rosscdt.org.uk homepage.

Ross Good Neighbours’ Phone Friends transitions to Age UK

The Ross Community Development Trust’s ‘Phone Friends’ service has finally transferred over to Ross Age UK after six months of helping residents in and around Ross-on-Wye.

At the start of lockdown in March, the Trust set up its Ross Good Neighbours ‘Phone Friends’ service with the aim of linking up people who felt lonely and cut off from their normal social activities, with a local resident who would keep in regular phone contact.

Felicity Hearn, Phone Friends Co-ordinator

The project has been very well received and provided valuable community links for many people. With the easing of lockdown, many residents are now feeling more confident to go out and meet up with their usual social contacts again. At the same time, some of the Phone Friends volunteers are now finding that they don’t have as much time to help, now that they are back in work or have other commitments.

Ross Good Neighbours is now transferring those residents who still want to receive contact via phone calls over to Ross Age UK, who are building up their ongoing ‘Companion Line’.  All the relevant residents have now been contacted about this change, and the Phone Friends team is pleased to be collaborating with Ross Age UK in this way.

If you would like further information about Age UK’s ‘Companion Line’, please contact Laura Simnett who is the Volunteer Support Officer for Ross-on-Wye’s office of Age UK Herefordshire & Worcestershire. You can call Laura on 01989 567165 or 01989 763887 or drop her an email at lsimnett@ageukhw.org.uk. Additional information about Age UK can be found online at www.ageuk.org.uk.

Covid-19 update from our Primary Care Network – 23 Sept

As autumn arrives, we also move into the season of coughs and colds. These typically start the week before schools go back with people returning from their holidays, peaking after Christmas. This is particularly pertinent this year, as we need to identify cases of coronavirus, whose symptoms can overlap with those of a cold.

The best strategy to contain the virus is to be testing widely and regularly, and it is frustrating that many people have been unable to access testing recently. It is not yet clear why the company running the testing arrangements has been unable to keep up with this predictable rise in demand.

Children’s education is of the utmost importance, and locally, schools have made significant changes to enable children to return to school safely. Current guidance is that children with a high temperature, continuous cough or loss of sense of smell should isolate along with household members and seek a coronavirus test.

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on our lives. GP practices have been open and working throughout the pandemic, seeing patients face to face when needed, but we have had to work in new ways to protect our patients and staff. We are trying hard to catch up on more routine work such as screening and prevention while maintaining essential services. Flu season is also coming up and we need to get as many people as possible protected, so please do have your flu jab if you are entitled to one.

We can, and will, get things nearer to normal again – but to do so means working together and following guidance. Face coverings and masks are effective in reducing the spread of the infection, so please wear one whenever around people from other households and in shared buildings. Finally, it is crucial to isolate if you have symptoms to avoid putting others at risk, so do follow the guidelines. Be prepared to stay at home if needed, ensuring you have sufficient food and medicines.

Anyone having to isolate or shield will be able to access food and medication deliveries – for assistance, please ring the Ross Good Neighbours Scheme (RGNS) message line on 01989 313002 and someone will call you back. For further information on the RGNS please log onto the website at www.rosscdt.org.uk.

Ross Community Development Trust
Dr Simon Lennane, PCN Clinical Director

Launch of Ross Neighbourhood Buddies Scheme

Ross Good Neighbours (RGN) has finally launched its Neighbourhood Buddy scheme following almost six months’ delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The local charity had originally intended to establish the buddy scheme earlier this year however activities were diverted due to the pandemic. The RGN team had to swiftly re-purpose its strategy and set up operations to handle their new message line, grocery shopping team and pharmacy deliveries to support those in the community who were Covid-19 isolating, as well as providing a much needed lifeline to anyone vulnerable or lonely. 

At the start of lockdown, thanks to the Ross Baptist Church, ‘The Venue’ in Hill Street was quickly set up to deal with the grocery deliveries. A large number of trestle tables were kindly loaned by the Larruperz Centre and several fridges and freezers were provided by Enviroability, in order to deal with the growing demand for shopping services being offered to vulnerable and isolated people.

Throughout lockdown, more than 780 grocery deliveries were completed with an astonishing 2,000 medication deliveries by the Pharmacy Team (a partnership between Ross-on-Wye Community Development Trust and Ross-on-Wye’s Rotary and Lions Clubs). The Message Line team received over 1,000 telephone calls and assisted with a huge and varied number of queries from the community seeking advice and help during the pandemic.

Photo: Sarah Holmes from Spar receives a personal thank you from Ross Community Development Trust after the team’s final grocery delivery shift [L to R: Jane Roberts, Sarah Holmes, Sarah O’Neill, Elspeth Keeling]

Following the recent easing of lockdown, and with life starting to return to normal, Jane Roberts, Chair of the Ross Community Development Trust, is delighted to announce that its RGN ‘Neighbourhood Buddy’ scheme is now up and running. “Following weeks of recruiting and training, we are finally in a position to launch our Neighbourhood Buddy scheme. The aim is to provide an organised network of local volunteers or ‘buddies’ who can help vulnerable households with daily tasks such as basic paperwork, light gardening, pet care or shopping. All of our volunteer buddies are DBS checked and fully trained to ensure they can offer the best support possible to our vulnerable communities. As we start a new chapter, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in our lockdown operations, particularly our incredible team of volunteers and also Spar, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, who provided us with the bulk of our shopping orders when we set up in March.”

The Neighbourhood Buddy scheme will operate across 11 areas in and around Ross, each supported by a dedicated team. If you, or someone you know, would benefit from assistance or help with daily chores mentioned above – or if you think you could become a buddy – please contact the Ross Good Neighbours team on their Message Line, 01989 313002, or you can email help@rosscdt.org.uk. Further information is available on the RGNS website (www.rosscdt.org.uk), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/rosscdt) or you can follow them on Twitter (@ross_cdt).

Covid-19 update from our Primary Care Network – 1 September

Community cases of Covid-19 in Herefordshire have thankfully remained low over the summer. There have been localised outbreaks in some workplaces, particularly those involved in food processing, as the virus seems to spread better indoors and in colder conditions. Thanks are due to our local Public Health team who have managed these outbreaks very quickly and effectively.

The challenge now will be getting through this winter while keeping cases as few as possible. The main risk seems to be from being in the same shared air as someone with Covid-19 infection, so good ventilation is crucial. Keeping windows open ensures the flow of air, so warmer clothes will be needed as the weather gets colder.

Hand washing remains important, but it is increasingly clear that face coverings are effective in reducing transmission of Covid-19. There is a strong argument for wearing face masks or coverings at all times when you are near people from other households, including at workplaces and schools.

Children are less likely to show symptoms, so as schools and colleges go back, it is possible that infections will start to spread throughout our community. We all need to be prepared to isolate if needed, so ensuring two weeks’ stocks of food and other essentials such as medicines is a sensible precaution.

Community spirit got us through the first wave of Covid-19, and the resilience of this town will get us through whatever is still to come. Anyone having to isolate or shield will be able to access food and medication deliveries – for assistance, please ring the Ross Good Neighbours Scheme message line on 01989 313002 and someone will call you back.

Ross Community Development Trust
Dr Simon Lennane, PCN Clinical Director

Covid-19 update from our Primary Care Network – 15 July

The outbreak on a Herefordshire farm has reminded us that Coronavirus has not gone away.

A very quick and effective response from Public Health was able to contain the situation, but we will inevitably get further outbreaks over time.

The key workers on the farm have isolated and been offered help, and hopefully will recover quickly and fully. It is crucial that anyone with possible Covid – 19 symptoms isolate themselves and arrange to be tested, to prevent further spread.

Face masks or coverings are being used to protect each other and will become compulsory in shops from 24th July.

There is no reason to wait until then, however.

People with the virus are infectious for a few days before symptoms start, so it is important to take precautions. Covering the face does reduce spread to others. A study in Germany showed that regions which adopted face masks reduced the spread of Covid – 19 by up to 40%. As such, wearing a face mask or covering is worthwhile, alongside social distancing and handwashing measures.

There is no evidence that face coverings are harmful, which is reassuring for key workers, who have been wearing masks throughout this outbreak.

Until we have a proven, effective vaccine, we will be at risk of transmitting and catching the virus. Anything we c an do to reduce spread while keeping our shops and businesses open is to be welcomed.

Please continue to be aware that anyone still having to isolate or shield will be able to access food & medication deliveries through the Ross Good Neighbours Scheme (RGN S) by contacting them on their dedicated message line – 01763 802046. For further information on the RGNS and other services available, please log onto the website at www.rosscdt.org.uk .

Ross Community Development Trust
Dr Simon Lennane, PCN Clinical Director

Simon Lenanne

Free face masks for Ross-on-Wye residents – 8 July

Ross Good Neighbours has launched a campaign to encourage the wearing of face coverings in shops and other enclosed areas in Ross-on-Wye.  We recommend using washable face coverings as these avoid wastage.  

There are a limited number of free washable face masks available to residents in Ross and some surrounding parishes.  Those places that have encouraged wearing of face coverings have shown a significant reduction in the spread of Covid-19. It helps our community if we all wear face masks or coverings when we are around other people.

Jane Roberts talks about the work of Ross Good Neighbours and the importance of wearing Face Masks

With 300 requests in less than 12 hours all face masks have now been allocated and we cannot take any more requests for them.

Our leaflet about why face masks are a good idea is here. Government advice on face coverings can be found here.  

Face coverings are a good way to prevent the spread of infection, provided the masks are used sensibly.  This means using masks only once before washing them (or safely disposing of single use items).  In addition you should:

1.  wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting the face covering on and after removing it

2.  avoid touching your face or the face covering when wearing it, to avoid contamination

3.  change the face covering if it becomes damp or if it has been touched

 4.  wash or sanitise your hands at regular intervals while you are out, and when you return home.

Face coverings should NOT be worn by young children or anyone who has trouble breathing or would be unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Ross Good Neighbours is very grateful to the Safety Shack Ross-on-Wye for the donation of masks to our grocery customers and to Hereford Masons for the financial support which has made the extension of this offer to the general public possible.  

Please note this is a limited offer and will end once our stocks have been distributed.

Ross in Lockdown photo competition: ‘Meet the Judges’

The Ross Good Neighbours photographic competition is well underway and there has been a great response so far. With the deadline of Monday 6 July looming, Cllr Daniel Lister, Mayor of Ross-on-Wye, sent a message to his followers on social media asking them to continue submitting photos which will be judged next week by the panel, all of whom are huge supporters of the arts and community projects. There are five categories you can enter – NHS, Baking, Outdoors, Home and Art – and you can email your entries, along with your name and telephone number, to comms@rosscdt.org.uk stating the category you are entering in the ‘Subject’ line. You can also upload your photos directly to the Ross Community Development Trust Facebook account, facebook.com/rosscdt. Winning entries will be reproduced in A3 framed format and all entries will be displayed locally (exact location to be confirmed as lockdown restrictions ease off).

The judging panel below are meeting on a Zoom call next week to decide on the winners – good luck!

Daniel Lister – Ross-on-Wye Town Councillor and Mayor Ross-on-Wye

Recently appointed Mayor of Ross-on-Wye, Danny is a huge believer in community spirit – rolling up his sleeves and getting on with the job in hand. He has a remarkable work ethic and is a loyal, hardworking and determined individual who likes to see work through to the end. Danny is always up for a challenge and enjoys learning new skills – amongst his achievements he has passed certificates in tree felling, asbestos awareness, lifeguard supervision, fireworks events organisation and legionella control! Following a period of working as bar and events manager from 2000 to 2004, Danny then spent the next 17 years working for PGL Travel, the UK’s leading outdoor adventure and education provider, in a variety of roles from group leader to maintenance technician. Currently, outside of his new mayoral responsibilities, he works part time as a support worker with local charity, Enviroability, which provides projects to benefit disadvantaged groups of people, the community and environment. Danny also dedicates his time working as a volunteer director with the Ross-on-Wye & District Community Association. Lockdown has been particularly hard for him as he loves to travel but he has been keeping busy as a volunteer radio presenter at Hereford Hospital Radio and is looking forward to Christmas, in his role as a Christmas Lights Committee Member!

Ed O’Driscoll – Ross-on-Wye Town Councillor and Chair of Community, Markets & Tourism Committee

Ed has a genuine passion for the arts and is a dedicated arts professional having originally studied Performance Art at Middlesex University followed by an MA in Social Media at Birmingham City University. As a Ross-on-Wye Town Councillor, chairing the Community, Markets & Tourism Committee, Ed also divides his time working as executive director of Arts in Rural Gloucestershire (AIR in G), supported by the Arts Council of England, and managing Calibre Productions, a vibrant touring production company known for creating high quality commercial theatre. His role with AIR in G is primarily a village and community touring circuit, promoting approximately 100 live events each year across all six districts of the county – however since lockdown this has unfortunately been brought to an abrupt halt. Ed is a huge dog lover, enjoying walking in and around the Ross-on-Wye countryside and in his spare time he also performs as lead singer with his band, The Forfeits – a local rock and pop band covering music from the 60s to present day.

Caz Holbrook – Photographer

Caz has lived in Ross-on-Wye for most of her life and has always had a keen interest in art from an extremely young age. After four years of formal training at Hereford Art College where she went on to gain qualifications in Art, Design, English and Photography, she went on to establish herself as a self-employed photographer, initially travelling extensively as a cruise ship photographer during her mid-twenties. Now, with over 20 years’ experience under her belt, her background in Art gives her a keen eye for composition, colour and design – and whilst most of her work revolves primarily around portraiture and wedding photography, she also produces Fine Art imagery. These are mostly landscapes but also include nature and abstracts – whatever catches her eye really! Her landscape work reflects her fondness of Ross-on-Wye and the surrounding areas – her iconic images ‘Rowers in the Mist’ and ‘Storm Desmond’ have both earned her international acclaim. ​​She has a large fan-base on many social media platforms, and her fine art images are available through her collaboration with the Made in Ross Art Collective, based above the Market House in Ross-on-Wye town centre. 

Meyrick Sheen – Arts and Community Projects Consultant

Meyrick was originally born and bred in Port Talbot and following a period of living in Newport, Gwent and then Wallasey, Cheshire with his wife Irene, son Michael and daughter Joanne, he has now finally retired and settled back in Port Talbot ‘with a wonderful view of Aberavon Beach’ he says. His father was an excellent photographer, winning a number of photographic competitions during his lifetime. Previously, Meyrick used to work as a Human Resources Manager for several international organisations based in the UK, but his heart has always been working within the local community. Since he was eighteen, he has had a keen interest in arts and culture and following his recent retirement as Chair of Port Talbot Operatic Society, he remains a Trustee there. He is also currently one of the Trustees of a major project – ‘The New Plaza Project : YMCA Port Talbot’ – a huge renovation project, due for completion in September 2021, to breathe life back into the historic, and once iconic, Plaza Cinema which sadly closed down in 1999. In addition to this, Meyrick dedicates his time as a Trustee to the charity, TREAT Trust (Wales) – Treatment, Rehabilitation, Exercise And Therapy – which aims to provide a rehabilitation and therapy centre to be built on gifted land within the Morriston Hospital site in Swansea.

Kelly Davies – Head of Art, John Kyrle High School

Originally hailing from South Wales, Kelly developed her love for art during her time in Cardiff, where she pursued a degree at UWIC followed by a PGCE in Education. For the next 15 years after graduating, Kelly lived in the vibrant town of Brighton, where she immersed herself in its eclectic culture and creativity. During her time there, she worked in an Arts Award status school where she completed her apprenticeship in teaching and was part of a very established and experienced art department for over ten years. This, she says, is where she was exposed to a diverse range of art across the curriculum at KS3-5, from GCSE, A Level to BTEC courses, in fine art, textiles, graphics, photography, ceramics, mixed media and animation. She remembers her time there fondly and says it was a wonderful experience which she holds dear: “It opened my eyes to how art and creativity can have such an impact on our self-expression and interpretation of the world, along with nurturing our well-being. I am at my happiest when creating, inspiring others, and teaching the future generations about art.” In her spare time, Kelly enjoys visiting galleries and learning more about art. She sketches daily and models work for her students, generating ideas to develop their personal progress and love for the arts. Kelly says that having experienced the power of creating, she wants to continue to encourage others to experience the magic of it too. Kelly believes that photography is a creative tool that everyone can access and celebrate: “Capturing moments in time seems to be embedded in our culture today – we all have access to a mobile phone to capture one’s life and this can be instantly gratifying.”