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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Coronavirus roundup Friday 25 September

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News across the sector as lockdown continues

Vital resources as second lockdown looms

As coronavirus restrictions tighten once more, the British Red Cross is urging people to reach out to others and offering to help those who feel lonely and cut off to keep in touch with people, digitally. As part of the scheme, specialist support will be available from a team of 90 new young digital volunteers, aged 16 to 25, who will be available to chat and talk people of all abilities and levels of confidence through the digital landscape. The British Red Cross has teamed up with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to launch the Tackling Loneliness Digitally programme that will offer a range of support and advice to people who feel lonely and isolated, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the limits it has put on people’s ability to meet up with others. The programme, which will be delivered by the Red Cross’s Generation Digital Volunteers, Connecting Communities and refugee services teams, will see those who need smartphones and data packages helped to access them, while others will be supported as they venture online and learn how best to keep connected with family and friends. People who want help will be able to call the British Red Cross coronavirus support line for a chat and, where they would like a little extra support or a boost in confidence, digital volunteers will be able to support them through their online journey. Where people are already online they can access a range of brilliant tools and resources – including online classrooms – designed to help boost confidence and improve wellbeing. British Red Cross executive director for UK operations Norman McKinley said: “You don’t have to do this alone. No one should be left feeling lonely and without anyone to turn to in this crisis. It’s more important than ever – as new coronavirus restrictions further limit everyday interactions – that we all reach out and try to stay in touch. Tackling Loneliness Digitally will help the people who our research shows are most likely to be feeling lonely and cut off from others to reconnect with friends and family. We’ll also be helping people access the tech and data that gets them online and back in touch with those they love.”

Big hearted lead singer remembers roots

A foundation set up by Gary Lightbody, leader singer with rock band Snow Patrol, has handed a £50,000 funding boost to five Scottish charities. Fife Gingerbread, Social Bite, Sense Scotland, ENABLE Scotland, and SAMH are all set to benefit to the tune of £10,000 each thanks to the Lightbody Foundation. The singer set it up with family and friends to support charities in Northern Ireland, but his strong links to Scotland saw him offer significant financial support to a raft of oganisations. Lightbody went to university in Dundee and spent 14 years here – and his donation comes hot on the heels of a major fundraiser for another long-established Fife charity. Last year, the band came north to perform a one-off, sold out gig at the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline in aid of The Craws Nest Trust charity, previously known the East Neuk Wheelchair Appeal run by Eleanor Bowman, mum of Radio One DJ, Edith. Over the last three decades, it has raised over £500,000, and bought 160 powered chairs and 30 manual ones. Writing on his foundation’s Facebook page, Gary, said: “Even though our foundation was set up to help charities mostly in Northern Ireland, I spent 14 years in Scotland from the age of 18 and Scotland gave me and Snow Patrol so much – so I wanted to support some charities there.”

Housing association audits its good work

Wheatley Group has helped hundreds of homeless people put a roof over their heads throughout the coronavirus crisis and briefed on how much support it has offered. The housing group says it has worked with the Scottish Government, local authority partners and other agencies to help tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, given out free food and has also provided 151 homes to Housing First, a multi-agency partnership set up to tackle rough sleeping. Meanwhile, Wheatley Care supports more than 2000 homeless people in temporary accommodation across central Scotland, providing them with the help they need to make a go of their home and engage with their communities. Since the start of the pandemic, that support has also included everything from emergency food parcels and furniture to mobile phones. The moves are the latest examples of Wheatley Group’s continuing commitment to tackling homelessness and supporting some of Scotland’s most vulnerable people. Martin Armstrong, Wheatley Group chief executive, said: “We are doing all we can to support people in greatest need in our communities, and particularly the homeless. We have worked closely with our partners in the Scottish Government and local authorities across the country, on initiatives such as Housing First, which we’ve supported from the beginning. The importance of everyone having a warm, safe and secure home should never be underestimated. As Scotland’s largest housing, care and property-management group, we will continue to use our size and scale to help the most vulnerable people in society.”

Digital lifeline for Alzheimer carers

Alzheimer Scotland, the country’s national dementia charity, has announced the launch of the pioneering Alzheimer Scotland Virtual Resource Centre which will provide a digital lifeline for carers and people living with dementia. The first of its kind in the UK, the Virtual Resource Centre will bring all of the charity’s resources and expertise online, making them permanently accessible to people living with dementia, as well as carers and relatives. The Virtual Resource Centre is currently under construction, and Alzheimer Scotland is calling on the public to back the rest of the build by supporting the Virtual Brick Appeal. The appeal calls for people to buy a virtual brick, and help raise the vital funds required for the completion of the digital centre, one brick at a time. A digital alternative to the charity’s current bricks and mortar Dementia Resource Centres, the online hub will provide a vital means of support to those who may be unable to travel, either due to distance, mobility or the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst this project has been on the radar for many months, Alzheimer Scotland deliberately accelerated the development of the Virtual Resource Centre due to coronavirus, as a means to provide people living with dementia easy access to the help they need. Alzheimer Scotland Chief Executive, Henry Simmons, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had an extreme impact on people living with dementia, as well as carers and loved ones, and we have reacted quickly to find new ways of supporting people. It is clear that there is urgent need and demand for a digital resource which can be accessed quickly and easily now and in the future. Our Virtual Resource Centre is a pivotal step forward in making our support accessible to a broader section of the population while simultaneously future-proofing our services, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of delivering essential support - regardless of challenges in our physical environment. Now more than ever, it’s important that no one faces dementia alone. By supporting our Virtual Brick Appeal, you will be contributing to the development and eventual completion of our Virtual Resource Centre – an essential online tool which will help us to provide the best care possible.