Helping local military veterans with emotional wellbeing, providing short breaks for exhausted carers, supporting at-risk children and organising befriending calls for the lonely.
These are just a fraction of the many thousands of actions taken day and night by Neath Port Talbot Council’s social workers to support families, children and the vulnerable as summed up in Social Services, Health and Housing Director Andrew Jarrett’s 2021/22 annual report.
He said in the report, presented to members of the council’s Housing and Community Safety Cabinet Board on December 15th, 2022:
“Social care, the wider public sector and the nation faced one of the biggest health care challenges in a century. Covid led to significant loss of life, tested how we all work together and pushed our services to their limits.
“Yet, in these times of uncertainty, intense difficulty and grief, our communities came together, showing resilient and supportive they can be, responding to calls for help and reaching out to vulnerable people across our neighbourhoods.
“Our care workers displayed their dedication and strength, working throughout the pandemic as the frontline of support to our residents and the voluntary and independent sectors showed ingenuity, ensuring people were offered the care and support they needed.”
Despite the Covid pandemic in 2021/22 a total of 2,406 adults and 1,803 of those aged 65+ had a service and care plan. Numbers are now rising as the country has moved out of lockdown.
There were a number of achievements during the difficult 12 month period including:
- Securing funding for a unit enabling the REORG HM Forces veterans’ group to store and deliver support to local veterans through Men’s Shed activities and emotional wellbeing through the veterans’ support network.
- The council strongly believes children’s needs are best met by their own families (if it can be safely supported) and the number of Children Looked After continued to fall, standing at 268 at the end of March 2022, down from 294 in the previous year. Also more than 99% of children’s assessments were completed within the target 42 days from point of referral.
- Working with the NPT Carers’ Service, the council managed a short breaks service with council funding of more than £140,000 to support the health and wellbeing of carers, enabling them to be partners, parents, sons, daughters, friends and confidants by enabling them to have “time off” from being a carer. Activities and breaks ranged from overnight hotel stays and spa days to coffee shop vouchers and art therapy.
- NPT Safe and Well which was set up during Covid, transferred to Social Services during the year. In the pandemic it supported over 1,500 residents with either prescription collection, shopping or befriending / wellbeing calls. Since joining Social Services over 126 residents have been supported in this way, while 38 are currently supported with befriending calls.
- Social work teams provide routes to care and support for the most vulnerable and when a young local woman with learning disabilities and a history of risk taking behaviour became pregnant and faced having to go to a mother and baby unit in North Wales (meaning the young woman would be cut off from vital help from her own mother) a unique arrangement was made involving wrap-around care from social workers allowing her to remain local. It has been a great success.
Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services Cllr Sian Harris said:
“Social workers and the volunteers they work with are the unsung heroes of our society and the dedication they showed during this difficult period was truly outstanding.”
Cabinet Member for Adult Social Services and Health, Cllr Jo Hale, added:
“The many thousands of people who are helped on a daily basis by our social services staff and their partner organisations is a wonderful achievement but it has to be funded which is why taxpayer and Welsh and UK Government financial support is so essential.”