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Exeter Community Wellbeing – Remembering what we’re good at

Published: 10 July 2020

ECW Blog 11 Remembering what we’re good at

This week we’ve been talking to Wellbeing Exeter Community Builders about the changes we’ve seen during ‘lockdown’ and the volunteer initiatives that have sprung up. Now that social distancing measures are relaxing more by the week, we wondered if some of the incredible support offerings organised by communities had faded as people became busier and less people are in self isolation. The message came back loud and clear: needs are changing, but the community is still active.

Over the past three months this blog has been sharing stories of what’s going on in our Exeter communities and the ways people are supporting each other and bring joy and respite in such challenging times. We thought this week we’d do a re-cap of some of the fun and heartwarming stories we’ve heard over the ‘lockdown’ period.

Noddy the Tortoise

Remember Noddy? The 40 year old tortoise was struggling to keep up his leafy green and salad habit. Noddy’s owner Madelin Bexon was isolating from March and put out a call for Noddy’s favourite food. The community rallied round to donate lettuces and bags of dandelion leaves. The ‘Tortoise Project’ emerged and local children began to grow lettuce at home and write stories about Noddy the Tortoise. Noddy is in for a treat as all those lettuce seeds have become big yummy plants!

Support from Exeter City Community Trust

Exeter City Community Trust, the partner charity of Exeter City Football Club, rapidly evolved its service to support people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. They have been a key partner in Exeter Community Wellbeing - a response service developed by Exeter City Council to support people during the coronavirus crisis. Jamie Vittles, chief executive of Exeter City Community Trust, said: “The lockdown meant that the majority of our activity, like our holiday clubs, support groups and events, had to be cancelled or postponed. We take our place at the heart of the community in Exeter very seriously, so quickly adapted to support the council’s Community Wellbeing initiative. We will do whatever we can to support people in our communities.”

Physical activity kits

South West Athletics Academy, run by Sonya Ellis (who also owns Exeter Craft Hub and has been sewing and delivering face coverings in her spare time), continues to provide fun activity boxes for local families to borrow. The Academy recently received a Sport England grant to support their work, which has barely missed a step, as they innovate to keep their community active with safety, fitness and fun in mind.

Sew volunteers

Sewing efforts across the city have been an ongoing feature in this blog, with Exeter Sew Volunteers, Exeter Craft Hub and Exeter Art Club leading the organisation of an army of sewing machinists and delivery drivers across the city. Health and care settings have remained a priority for the distribution of lovingly made face coverings, face mask adapters and scrubs, which are now being delivered far and wide to businesses and individuals, too.

Green city

Nicki Carolyn, who set up the Exeter Plant Enthusiasts Facebook page, continues to gift cuttings to neighbours and encourage others to tend houseplants as a hobby. “I decided to start growing a collection of houseplants last year. I realised that even though outdoor gardening was not an option, houseplants were a great alternative. I find it really therapeutic for my mental and physical wellbeing and it's so lovely to have a hobby I am able to do. During lockdown I have felt very fortunate to have this hobby to keep me occupied. I would recommend it to anyone feeling a bit fed up with being stuck inside, or to anyone looking for a new, relaxing but rewarding hobby.”

Over the past weeks we’ve also been treated to an abunda

Pennsylvania good neighbours

Matt and Karen Sylvester began their community support journey shortly before lockdown and have been managing a network of up to 150 volunteers at a time. The group received grants from both Exeter City Council and Devon County Council, which they have used to cover costs for fuel and PPE. The group have been instrumental in the area’s community larders and other supportive initiatives and the volunteer base is still active in various roles.

“That’s one really important thing that we’ve tried to achieve with this group. We don’t just take calls and send a stranger to do someone’s shopping. We buddy people up with neighbours. They build relationships, which gives them a sense of community safety and support, now and in the future.”

Chalking revolution

Street chalking has become a welcome part of our community life over the crisis period. Children and adults have really taken this on as a way to interact socially, express their creativity and have some fun. We’ve loved the photos coming through over the weeks of new designs on pavements and hope to see more!

We are keenly aware that there are still people in our neighbourhoods who require support, whether as a direct result of the Covid crisis or due to other circumstances. Please continue to share Exeter Community Wellbeing details with others, so that we can continue to make the connections that make a difference.

Exeter Community Wellbeing

To request support, as an individual or a community group, get in touch with Exeter Community Wellbeing:

Phone: 01392 265000

Lines open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm

Exeter Community Wellbeing is co-ordinated by a team including Wellbeing Exeter partners, Devon Community Foundation, Exeter Community Initiatives and Exeter City Council. Funding partners include Exeter City Council, Devon County Council and Sport England.

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