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Forres' COVID-19 response

Supporting Communities Fund to help local response to COVID-19

It’s nothing new that the people of Forres in Moray are looking out for each other. In ‘normal’ times it’s a place that puts community at the heart of its activities.

What is new is the scale of the challenge, as local people face the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. A wide range of community organisations, bolstered by increased numbers of local volunteers supporting the local response, are working together to help ensure no one is struggling alone.

Forres Area Community Trust has secured £48,382 from the Scottish Government Supporting Communities Fund, distributed through HIE, to support the efforts on the ground to protect people shielding, at risk, or who have lost income as a result of the pandemic.

 

Help where it's needed

As soon as it became clear that there was going to be a lockdown, the community was quick to act. The local response group brought people together to set up an initial neighbourhood approach, with people street to street checking for anyone who needed help with essentials like shopping and prescriptions.

FACT, and the local COVID-19 response groups have worked closely with tsiMoray, Moray Council Community Support Unit, REAP, Moray Well Being Hub and Moray Food Plus and individuals to deliver services including telephone befriending, volunteering, digital support, food provision, fuel vouchers, shopping, the Moray Scrubs project and delivering information leaflets.

Over 70 volunteers came forward to help.

The community has seen demand for food parcels rise tenfold during lockdown. FACT has a community food larder at the Forres Town Hall and, working with Moray Food Plus, restocking and deliveries direct to local people is happening daily.  

We're so grateful for all the support from volunteers, groups and businesses. People have gone above and beyond."
Debbie Herron, development manager, FACT

Closed but not closed

FACT is based at the Forres Town Hall, and the local development trust is in the process of bringing the facility into community ownership. Despite having to close the town hall to the public under COVID-19 guidelines, it has continued to be an important hub supporting the community.

Debbie Herron, local development officer with FACT, says the range of activities and services they regularly provide to the community has helped them connect people. Their projects include the community food larder, the Forres Online Project, and the Cameron project - which reduces isolation for older residents.

She said: “Lockdown is affecting so many people, and a local network makes it easier to provide help, while respecting people’s privacy.”

Almost 250 meals and 60 care packages have been delivered, £1000 in food vouchers have been distributed, and almost 100 people have had digital or befriending support.

The way forward

FACT will continue to provide ongoing COVID-19 related support until September 2020. This has been made possible with funding support from the Supporting Communities Fund, the Auchernack Trust, SCVO, William Grant Foundation, Moray Council, in kind resources from Diageo,  the Forres OAP Association and Forres Mechanics, as well as individual donations of cash and goods. 

The community partners are also working together on what the longer-term response to the impacts of the pandemic on the local community will look like.