Boost for post-Covid recovery in Birmingham suburb

Quarter of a million pounds of funding secured towards COVID-19 recovery.

Castle Vale community venture The Pioneer Group has secured a ground-breaking figure of over quarter of a million pounds through a number of charitable bids to help residents hardest hit in the area by COVID-19.

The third sector in the Erdington constituency has heroically stepped up with funding available from several different organisations as part of the Erdington Taskforce. The funds will be used to support a broad range of initiatives towards recovery in Castle Vale and other surrounding areas.

Arriving at a crucial time, the funding will be used by The Pioneer Group and its partners for the high number of people who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 in Castle Vale. Many have experienced a dramatic change in their financial status with little warning. Some are locked down in cramped conditions. While hundreds have been self-isolating for health reasons, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

For some residents living alone with minimal social contact, the lockdown period has proved mentally challenging, particularly for those with pre-existing anxiety and depression struggles as they have not been able to access their normal support structures, such as friends, family and advice services. To combat this, The Pioneer Group has secured funding to increase online counselling support to be delivered by Compass Support, the charitable arm of the group.

Taking care of your mind as well as your body is really during this unusual interval of isolation, which is why Compass Support have also utilised the funding to create Wellbeing Activity Packs to keep recipients occupied. The packs are delivered directly to residents’ doors and offer a range of activities from craft kits and puzzle books, to quizzes and growing seeds.

The lockdown period has also placed a great strain on the family dynamic which has been especially challenging for some young people. The additional COVID recovery funds means the charity can also develop their youth programmes to offer online mentoring support and structured activities. A summer project is already being developed for 11-16 year olds with an aim to get outdoors and socialise, all within government social distancing guidelines.

The funding is also being used to ensure that no one is in food crisis, with food parcels and a food bank accessible to all those in need. Spitfire Services has been able to enhance its food bank provisions, while also offering benefits advice; a service which has also seen an increase in use due to the significant rise in households claiming Universal Credit throughout the pandemic.

Simon Wilson, CEO of The Pioneer Group, said: “We are hugely grateful for organisations like the National Lottery Community Fund, Birmingham City Council, the Thomas Dole Trust, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis and many more for donating so that we can support families as they recover from the challenges they’ve experienced recently, and in the light of some residents having to continue to self-isolate for the foreseeable future.

“We would also like to thank the army of volunteers who are helping others, from delivering food parcels to putting together the Wellbeing Activity Packs. Their efforts have made delivery of our support services possible and continue to galvanise the immense community spirit we have seen throughout the pandemic so far.”