Kent County Council has confirmed an additional £1 million investment for its frontline Kent Community Warden Service over the next two years.
For 18 years the Kent community warden service (KCWS) has served local communities by preventing crime, supporting vulnerable residents and tackling social isolation. It is a proactive and visible presence promoting stronger and safer communities.
KCC’s Community Wardens are hard at work every day, and since the end of March they have been helping residents cope with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Among many other activities, the 70-strong force are delivering essential medical prescriptions, food parcels and hot and cold meals to vulnerable isolated residents and working with shops, food producers, restaurants, food banks, Age UK, Community Cupboards and many other partners to maintain supplies.
Before the pandemic, the demand for the community-based warden scheme was already high, with wardens currently working across 128 Kent communities. The public health crisis has not only added to this demand but highlighted just how valuable the service is to our communities.
KCC has prioritised investing in the enhancement and expansion of the service. This investment will enable service improvements and an increase in warden numbers, enabling more of Kent’s communities and residents to benefit as the service becomes more accessible.
We will be recruiting new staff and expanding into new areas, during the latter part of 2020, and into early 2021.
Mike Hill, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “I am extremely proud of the Kent Community Warden Service. Wardens have provided invaluable support for communities all over Kent for many years.
“Their work was championed during the County Council’s Select Committee for Loneliness and Social Isolation last year and this year has seen the service adapt and work to deliver vital support during this time of crisis. I am delighted that we are able to invest in the service and make it available to more of our communities in Kent.”
Here are just a few examples of the work they are doing across the county:
After warden Susan Beeney dropped a leaflet into Ossies Fish Bar in Canterbury, the owner contacted her with an offer of free fish and chips for the elderly and vulnerable. Susan collected order of 45 fish and chips and distributed them to sheltered accommodation Franklyn House in Sturry, to isolated residents in the area and to Paffard Court sheltered accommodation, where the elderly residents were grateful that the community was looking out for them.
Wardens are continually delivering prescriptions to self-isolated vulnerable residents, including a delivery by David Harmes to a boat on the River Stour! They are also working with GPs and Parish Councillors to ensure protocols are put in place to minimise the risk of the spread of the virus.
Warden Gordon Guillou-King had been working to support an ex-army serviceman, living with mental health/PTSD issues and a suffering alcoholic. After several months of working with partners including the Forward Trust, Porchlight and the Royal British Legion real progress was being made with the alcoholism – and then came COVID-19!
Unable to travel and isolated from the built-up support network, it was more important than ever to maintain that support, which has been achieved through regular direct phone calls, emails and indirect messages of support from the team.
Richard Sinden, the Community Warden in Wye, has been working with a small group of volunteer residents on a phone buddy scheme. Volunteers provide a regular friendly phone call to help reduce the feelings of isolation. An appeal was put out on the village Facebook page and more than 20 volunteers came forward to help