Bellingen Shire Coronavirus Pandemic Response Group

06 Apr 2020

The Bellingen Shire has taken matters into its own hands with the establishment of their Bellingen Shire Pandemic Response Group and today launch another layer – a Connection Centre and COVID-19 Website.

“It’s all about helping community help itself. We don’t know what we’re facing, we just know we’re better if we do it together” said Dean Besley, Council appointed facilitator of the Bellingen Shire Pandemic Response Group.

The Pandemic Response Group came together in early March and while facilitated by council, it’s a collaborative effort with the community and various specialist groups working together.

The Pandemic Response Group is made up of representatives from the Clinical Action Group responsible for establishing and operating our own COVID-19 Clinic, and the Neighbourhood Care Network which provides a network of volunteers helping each other with practical support, connection and resources to get through this together.

The Bellingen Shire Council is represented on the group and is providing resourcing as they can to the wider group, along with a focus on essential service continuation.

The Business Support Network is represented by all three Chambers of Commerce and are working with the businesses in the Shire to provide support and advice. The Services and Support Network is being lead by the Shire Neighbourhood Centres with various service agencies represented.

The most recent area of the Group’s focus for the past 10 days has been the establishment and operation of a Connection Centre and COVID-19 website.

“We workshopped with the pandemic response group members and came to the realisation that whilst each group was providing some great support and doing some amazing things for our community, what was missing was a central hub – and this is how the need for the Connection centre and a website became clear” Michelle McFadyen, Deputy General Manager Corporate and Community said.

The Connection Centre is like a call centre and is the central hub for the Pandemic Response Group, and the action groups and networks that make it up.

The Connection Centre was launched today and is operating Monday to Friday 10am to 2pm initially. The number to call, if you need support, need information or are able to help, is 5627 6001. The Centre is staffed by volunteers and council and is launched in conjunction with a new website designed specifically for the Bellingen Shire community. The website can be found at www.bellingenshireconnects.com.au and brings together all the information, activities and support provisions of the Pandemic Response Group in a user focused fashion.

“We expect we’ll have calls from our community around anything from financial issues, family issues, health, food, business, local services, personal needs, homelessness and housing” Volunteer Lily Isobella said.

The Pandemic Response Group is urging our community to have a look at the information on the website and register themselves.

“We have over 430 people registered to offer help, or who may need help, and we have almost 100 neighbourhood champions registered so at present, nominally we’ve reached coverage of around 80% of the households in the Shire” Kerry Pearse, Neighbourhood Care Network Coordinator said.

“It’s been an amazing experience seeing the community and council come together like this with one clear purpose – supporting our community - even under these exceptional circumstances”, Bellingen Shire Mayor Dominic King said.

“If you or anyone you know needs any support – even if you’re not sure – call the Connection Centre on 5627 6001, we can help” Dean Besley said.

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