A Stoke-on-Trent charity, which has supported hundreds of residents during the pandemic, has now resumed several of its face to face services.

Chell Area Family Action Group (CAFAG) had to temporarily close the Fegg Hayes Whitfield Valley Centre in March due to the lockdown which saw weekly workshops, fitness classes, lunchtime clubs and gardening projects all put on hold.

But now, after five months, the charity have reopened its doors and are welcoming visitors back to the centre.

Charity manager Linda Hamnett said: “I’m extremely proud of how staff members of the charity adjusted to the new requirements of working from home. In a very short time our staff members had to reorganise their workloads to allow for the care of their own families whilst keeping in touch with all our lovely community members. We truly have a brilliant team and it’s great to now be able to welcome residents back to the centre.”

CAFAG provides activities designed to improve the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of the communities surrounding them and despite the centre being closed support continued to be provided.

Emily Taylor, assistant charity manager at CAFAG, said: “It’s been a tough few months – as it has been for a lot of charities and organisations. We had to adapt our services quickly and our staff and volunteers continued to offer support, assisted with shopping, prescription collections, meals on wheels and dog walking. Some of our local residents have not really stepped out of their homes in the last five months – and they have expressed their relief in having a safe place to meet others. We did operate social distancing face to face support in the community in July through the Youth Club services, but having the centre back open is so important in enabling us to provide more of our services. Our residents really enjoy being able to come to the centre to chat to others and generally have some company.”

Emily added: “We have also been providing various activities online via our Facebook Page and through our own YouTube channel – CAFAG Tube. We have been providing activity packs for our online activities which have been very popular and we are continuing with our online support.”

Notable figures from CAFAG’s Facebook activities show that the Youth Club social media posts reached between 6-12,000 accounts each month, the CAFAG Creche had more than 90 activity videos published, which included useful tips and advice and reached between 200-300 accounts each month from March-August 2020.

CAFAG-Cafe-area
CAFAG seating and cafe area. Perspex screens have now been put in place following the pandemic. September 2020.

 

As well as providing activities CAFAG have their own cafe and kitchen area which are now equipped with perspex screens. Social distancing signage has been put in place and a one way system has been introduced at the centre.

Nannette Hulse, CAFAG’s health and wellbeing officer said: “The over 55s Lunch Club is now taking place twice a week in two separate groups and we’re really hoping to open our cafe to the public very soon. It really is great to welcome back residents.”

During the pandemic the charity’s gardening projects were also put on hold, but CAFAG’s gardener David Johnson supported residents throughout Stoke-on-Trent and has so far assisted with 197 gardens, helping to maintain them for those that were unable to do so.

“Our gardening volunteers have been brilliant, and they have also been complimenting the services offered by other organisations,” said David. “We are also looking for more volunteers to help with our gardening projects in the community and if anyone is interested in helping. Please get in touch with me by emailing
djohnson@cafagwvc.org.uk .”

The Aston Fitness Centre at the charity’s Centre has also reopened with social distancing measures in place and telephone bookings are required on 07460 566800. The charity has also been working in partnership and supported with community services provided by Fegg Hayes Futures and The Chell Parish Church.

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