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Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2021

Well 2020 has certainly been a year to remember.

This year has been the year where kindness actually became incredibly visible. People stepped forward to help their neighbours, delivering shopping and prescriptions or simply chatting to combat loneliness. And when people reached out to people just to say ‘hi, how are you doing?’ it felt genuine and sincere

We collectively gave our thanks to those who work hard every day to keep us safe, healthy, fed, clothed and educated. Workers who so often don’t get the appreciation they deserve were told how valued they were, and not just through routine clapping – we shared our gratitude in our conversations with them too.

Children’s wellbeing, and especially the issue of child food poverty, became part of everyday conversations. The movement to raise awareness both locally and nationally has meant more and more people offering their time, money and support . Local food banks, pantries and activity providers have worked incredibly hard to make sure   that more and more families can access the essentials they need. The way we came together as a community to support each other is something to celebrate

A round up of our year

In terms of looking back at 2020, we started the year with our amazing NCLB awards that celebrated the work of organisations across our town to ensure that all children had opportunities to thrive. Winners included The Aston project, Move More, our fab local libraries, Cheltenham Town FC and many more very worthy projects. These organisations have continued to provide excellent opportunities to children and families throughout this year and long may they continue!

In February, we were still working hard planning the exciting events we had lined up for the year (little did we know). We launched our new look website just in the nick of time, and this proved to be very useful as things took a turn…

In March, April and May NCLB activities were briefly paused as our team worked with the Gloucestershire Help Hub to ensure that people across our town could access food, medication and vital support as the lockdown affected us all. This has continued ever since and the hub is still supporting the most vulnerable. Over 1000 people signed up needing help and signposting and to date the Help Hub has made over 4500 calls to people to check on their welfare, worked with The Cheltenham Trust to deliver upwards of 2800 food parcels and Cheltenham Borough Homes’ staff, through the hub, delivered more than 250 prescriptions to those who could not safely visit their pharmacies.

The pandemic meant rethinking how we do things. How could we continue to highlight the issue of children growing up in poverty in Cheltenham and deliver activities that will support local children and their families?  We took our plans online, and we are thrilled with how it has gone.

In the summer we used our new website to reach out to people on specific, pressing issues such as mental health, eating well and staying physically active. We shared key government guidance, suggested fun family activities and highlighted the great work our partners around the town were doing.

In September we launched our Community Agreement as schools reopened, focussing on the importance of kindness and working hand in hand with families who need support. Since then the agreement has grown and grown and we now have over 50 schools and organisations across all sectors signed up ready to make real, lasting change to the way we do things in Cheltenham.

Throughout October we continued to work with local allotment holders to gather fresh fruit and vegetables to distribute through local food providers such as CCPs pantry to local families. The project started during the summer months but we agreed to extend it thanks to the excellent support we received.  

In November we held our first NCLB community training, ‘The Roots of Resilience’ inviting all Community Agreement partners to attend to learn more about how adversity affects young people and how we could support them to build their resilience. More than 30 attended, from a wide range of professional backgrounds.

December brought a huge smile to our faces as we worked with the Queen’s Hotel to celebrate ‘Kindness At Christmas’, displaying fabulous artwork produced by children from 13 Cheltenham schools on the side of the hotel in a festive advent calendar.

With all that in mind, we end 2020 feeling positive and proud of all our partners, friends and most importantly the residents of our brilliant town.

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