Households offered support during crisis
27 Jan 2021
Northumberland County Council has launched a number of initiatives to help support households facing hardship as a result of Coronavirus.
The council is delivering the Winter Support Grant Scheme (WSGS) with funding from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and in partnership with community organisations across the county.
The (WSGS) is helping households with food, or fuel and water payments. Eligible households are being contacted by the council’s Northumberland Communities Together team (NCT) and are being offered vouchers to be spent at supermarket chains, or a direct cash payment as well as a community-led food offers.
A digital web based app has been piloted to ensure eligible residents are able to access the simplest and most effective support and assistance.
The new scheme comes after the NCT team worked alongside the council’s digital team to come up with the digital solution called Northumberland Choices, to further support households. The app provides access to a variety of support options with food and other essentials for households over the winter period.
The app was tested during a pilot scheme with 60 families in the Berwick area. Working in partnership with local food waste initiative Northern Soul Kitchen (NSK). The pilot offered households a choice of a hamper or takeaway from NSK or a visit to its café, as well as supermarket vouchers or a PayPoint cash payment. The app allowed families to make their choice quickly, easily and discreetly.
The app also supported an NCT’s partnership with schools in Northumberland in helping to provide vouchers over the Christmas break for families who are entitled to Free School Meals.
Cllr Veronica Jones, cabinet member responsible for the NCT initiative, said: “We have seen an increase in demand for support and assistance as a result of Covid-19, and our communities have pulled together and supported those most in need.
“The WSGS and the new app will provide support to families this winter, with some households already benefitting from the scheme in the run-up to Christmas.”
Chris Thompson, director of information and technology at Northumberland County Council, added: “The Northumberland Choices service is a great example of where we want our digital strategy to take us. We came together to focus on the needs of the user and develop something of value to put out there quickly so we could learn from their feedback and iterate the service with improvements moving forwards.
“The app further demonstrates the innovative approach the council is taking in helping to make life simpler for our residents.”
If you are anyone you know is struggling as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, then the NCT team is here to help. They can help you find support or put you in touch with local community groups or organisations who can help.