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Dedication and creativity to meet changing needs

Dedication and creativity to meet changing needs

The Lloyds Bank Foundation has recently published an excellent report “The Value of Small in a Big Crisis” available via

Their research has shown what we know to be true at HADCA, which is that small and local charities were at the heart of the community response to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic: “In essence, they ‘showed up’ and then ‘stuck around’, using their position of trust within communit ies experiencing complex social issues to support people when they were needed most.” 

A couple of weeks ago we hosted one of our Chief Officers and Chairs network sessions on Zoom which brilliantly illustrated exactly this finding. Colleagues from 20 local charities described how they’re continuing to adjust quickly to support the people they work with and demonstrated the resilience, dedication and creativity they’ve needed to respond to ever-changing needs over the past year.

Everyone has got to grips with adapting services to go online, whilst also doing everything they can to maintain safe “in person” contact as well, recognising that Zoom is not for all. Regular phone calls, doorstep chats and activity packs all featured, and even treats and goody bags on special occasions, generously supported by a range of local businesses such as Rudding Park and the Swinton Estate. Volunteers have been at the heart of all these efforts; their kindness, friendliness and care supplementing the support provided by family, friends and neighbours alongside the NHS and local authorities.

Charity leaders are now working out how “in person” services and support can be safely re-started. Adaptability will be continue to be crucial as we take stock of how we’ve all been affected by the trauma of the pandemic in so many different ways. It’s clear that COVID19 has exposed health inequalities in society that need to be addressed, even in our relatively prosperous District.

Charities must collaborate together and with public and private sector partners to sustain the fantastic local response to COVID19 and to make it as easy as possible to keep volunteering. We must also look ahead and embrace more environmentally friendly ways of living and travelling and ensure we cherish the open spaces and cultural assets which contribute so much to our community life. 

For example this time last year HADCA took part in the annual Sights and Sounds of Ripon event, joining dozens of charities, community groups and choirs in the inspiring setting of Ripon Cathedral. This wonderful day of activities is organised by a partnership team led by Harrogate Borough Council and Ripon Museums Trusts and showcases the abundance of wonderful venues and groups supporting wellbeing and community action in and around the city.

It’s always a great day, with the chance to renew old friendships, make new ones and find out more about the lively city of Ripon. The photo on this page shows Karen and Angela meeting Polly the Paramedic from the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service in March 2020. Fast forward a year and standing so close and sharing a hug with a cuddly mascot seems astonishingly daring! 

The pandemic has helped us realise that face to face contact is essential in so many ways that we didn’t fully appreciate until it had to be drastically reduced. As the vaccine programme progresses and we make our way cautiously along the route set out in the government’s roadmap, let’s hope it’s not too long before we can hug our families, friends and colleagues.

We’ll know we’re heading in the right direction when we see Polly the Paramedic and pals out and about at community events across the District!