Thousands awarded to launch trailblazing help service in Sid Valley

Originally posted in the Sidmouth Herald:

The Herald previously reported that volunteers behind the Sid Valley HELP scheme needed to raise £60,000, to operate for its first three years.

Members of the Sidmouth Health and Care Forum, who are driving the project, lobbied Sidmouth Town Council at its latest meeting.

Di Fuller, the forum’s chairman, said once they were up and running they were confident they would be able to access nation funding and grants but they needed £5,000 to kickstart the project - which the council has now agreed to meet.

The new service is looking to continue the work of the Help Link Service, which closed in March after more than 20 years of helping people in the parish.

Councillors initially raised concerns about something similar happening to the new scheme, so invited representatives to talk about how this initiative was different.

Speaking at the meeting, Mrs Fuller said: “Our vision is that everyone in the valley will be able to access and make the best use of all the community services that are available and that community organisations can work together to respond to unmet needs.”

Mrs Fuller added there were numerous organisations in the valley which really helped meet the needs of the people, including everything from large charities such as Sidmouth Hospiscare to tiny groups which offered tea parties once a month.

She said the initiative, which was launched last month, aimed to bring all these organisations together to share resources.

Gill Ryall, CEO of Sidmouth Hospiscare, added: “Some organisations find it hard to attract volunteers, we don’t. We have volunteers who are asking for more to do.”

Cllr Dawn Manley said: “It’s absolutely brilliant – it has been welcomed by different agencies and is not replicating services.

“There is an absolute need for this. It is great you have started working on a website that is already bringing people together and all these amazing volunteers are asking for something to do.

“How lucky we are that you have dedicated your time to this voluntarily. It is the least the council can do, to support getting this going.”