By Amanda Eleftheriades-Sherry, Editor
Local charities, social enterprises, businesses, faith groups and inspirational individuals are stepping up to support our communities through these difficult times.
Clydesider will be sharing these stories over the coming weeks and months ahead.
At a time when we are being bombarded with frightening news from around the world we do need to hear about the local solutions being put in place to help all of us when we’re at our most vulnerable.
And there are lots of truly inspiring stories to tell. This is a quick summary of some, we will bring you more in-depth features from our local heroes each week.
From emergency food aid to recycle rooms, West Dunbartonshire is fortunate to have many local charities and groups supporting people when they need it most.
So during this time of crisis whether you’re worried about how to feed your family if you become unwell or if you suddenly find yourself out of work and need to claim benefits for the first time, there are groups out there who can help.
There are also organisations experienced in tackling problems such as social isolation, domestic abuse, loneliness and addiction, who are just a phone call, text message or email away.
Most of these organisations have been providing these lifeline services for years and they are still there delivering a service, whilst trying their best to develop virtual solutions and contact points as quickly as possible.
Local businesses are under a huge strain right now, many being forced to shut up shop or lay off staff, while others finding themselves inundated with more work than they can cope with.
They are also running daily digital drop-ins open to all businesses in West and East Dunbartonshire (members and non-members) where local Chamber members with expertise in IT, HR, employment law etc are pooling their knowledge to answer some of the troubling questions facing many businesses.
As well as the Chamber’s co-ordinated response there have been countless stories of individual businesses offering their services, facilities and goods to help the local community.
From taxi firms volunteering their services to deliver meals and essential goods to housebound residents, to recruitment companies sharing their telephone systems, to IT firms offering expertise to third sector organisations, to a local videography company live-streaming a Sunday prayer service – local businesses are really stepping up to the mark.
The Vale kicked off the online community responses to the current crisis with the Vale of Leven Coronavirus Support and Assistance private Facebook group set up by David Keown. Its aim is to support anybody needing assistance in the current crisis.
The group currently has nearly 9,000 members who are sharing information about what is available in local shops, helping each other when they’re feeling low and creating an online community to support Vale folk.
A similar group – Coronavirus Clydebank Community Help – has been set up in Clydebank by Claire Bruynseels and in Dumbarton Mark Connelly took the initiative launching the Dumbarton Coronavirus Community Help group.
Many smaller communities have also set up their own rapid response teams using ‘old school’ methods of printing posters and leaflets to pop through doors and stick on noticeboards.
Faith organisations are pulling together teams of trusted volunteers who can be called on if and when required.
And West Dunbartonshire Council is also recruiting volunteers from their staff teams who have appropriate disclosure checks and are ready to help in their local community.
This is just a whistle-stop tour of some of the local solutions already being developed in West Dunbartonshire.
It really is true, we are all in it together and we can help each other be in a stronger place when we come out the other side.