It’s worth remembering at this point the huge challenges that our communities have faced under lockdown. The most vulnerable in our society have been further isolated, needing to shield themselves from the wider population for months on end. While accessing everyday necessities such as food and prescriptions are the most immediate concerns, the disconnection and loneliness that comes with the lockdown also have the potential to cause significant problems. In response to this, individuals and groups across Wales knew they would have to stand up, show compassion, and take responsibility for the wellbeing of their neighbours and communities.
I spoke to Dafydd Trystan, who started a group in Grangetown, Cardiff. After seeing what was happening in Spain, which reached its peak of the virus earlier than Wales did, he knew that community action was needed. 178 people in the local area signed up as volunteers, and over 200 people have been helped by the group so far. At the other end of the country in Conwy, groups were being set up informally in towns and communities across the county. Local councillor Aaron Wynne started one in his own local area, Llanrwst, and sought to join up the independent groups that were being formed. Around 400 people across the county signed up as volunteers, and at its peak, the central phone number was getting over 700 calls per week from people seeking support. These numbers show just how dire the situation was for people across Wales during this period, but also how many people were willing to stand up and take responsibility for the wellbeing of their neighbours and communities.