#NeverMoreNeeded: Pilmeny Development Project
22 July 2020
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve supported local charities and voluntary organisations doing vital work in the community. With a series of small grants, we’ve been able to help those working in the voluntary sector as they tackle the impacts of the crisis in Leith and north Edinburgh. We want to share the stories of these organisations and the importance of these groups and charities at all times, but particularly in the current crisis.
Pilmeny Development Project
One of our longstanding tenants, Pilmeny Development Project, is a grassroots organisation which, for over 40 years, has been working to improve quality of life in the area. We were pleased to award them a small grant to support their work during lockdown this year.
Usually, Pilmeny Development Project runs older people’s groups, youth groups and manages Leith’s Timebank. Local people raise and deliver actions which contribute to sustainable development and overcoming any problems they identify. As the dangers of COVID-19 came into sharper focus, particularly for older people, the project put aside business as usual and looked at what they could do.
“It was so lovely to feel someone cares.”
Mobilising local volunteers while working from home, they set up a telephone befriending service, started offering practical help like shopping and collecting prescriptions for people shielding and looked at how to offer support for children and families online. By the Easter holidays they were already able to offer online alternatives for their school holiday clubs.
“I can’t believe how grateful I am to Pilmeny Development Project, for holding Zoom sessions for the kids throughout this difficult and strange time. I live with 4 children and I suffer daily with a painful disability, so knowing my daughter had these planned sessions just made things so much easier, not only for myself, but for the mental health of my daughter. A bit of normality in these circumstances is what children need, and they were definitely given that from Claire and her Zoom sessions. My daughter came away from the session looking so much more relieved, less tense and just happier all round. Thank you so much PDP. I am overwhelmed by your kindness”
“A bit of normality in these circumstances is what children need, and they were definitely given that from Claire and her Zoom sessions.”
Pilmeny Development Project’s response to COVID-19 in the 10 weeks from March-May 2020…
Older people and carers
- 32 new referrals to our Risk Register of older people who live alone or may have additional needs
- 40 volunteers
- 990 calls made for befriending/contact service
- 401 newsletters distributed to socially isolated older people
- 162 older people & 102 families provided with food bank vouchers, parcels and ready meals
Young people and families
- 47 new referrals
- 30 virtual youth clubs held with 210 children and young people
- 398 calls made to vulnerable young people
- 39 one-to-one calls and 67 calls to parents and families
- 150 resource packs distributed and purchased, including activity packs, school packs and sensory packs
The small staff team knew they had a big part to play, but were also open to partnerships with other local organisations. This approach has enhanced the services they have been able to offer. They have been proactive in sharing what they are able to offer and this has meant that many people have been referred for support by other agencies, including 12 Port of Leith tenants! This partnership approach has been appreciated by many.
“Anne, you and your volunteers have undoubtedly saved us from a great number of attendances at the homes of those whom you help, so we are in your debt. Happy to help and very appreciative of what you have done for the community.” – Police Scotland Local Family & Household Support Team.
Anne Munro, Manager at Pilmeny Development Project is clear that this current crisis has brought existing inequalities into the light:
“COVID-19 has tested and revealed overall levels of poverty and how little many local people are trying to survive on. The pandemic revealed the difficulties and lack of a safety net many of the folk we work with have.”
She also highlighted that they have seen an increase in social isolation, loneliness and issues around mental health over the past months. There is a real challenge around how they will address and support these needs going forward, particularly for those who don’t have the skills or resources to be online.
However, it’s clear that the support they have been offering has made a real difference as one local said: “A short note to say thank you all for the food you sent to me. I was quite overwhelmed by such generosity, it’s not something that I have ever had before, and it was so lovely to feel someone cares. You all must be very busy doing the wonderful job that you do.”
We are sharing Pilmeny Development Project’s story and the stories of others we have supported as part of the #NeverMoreNeeded campaign on social media. Learn more about Pilmeny Development Project here.
In 2020, local charities have never been more needed for the vital support they provide to individuals and families, both regularly and with heightened demand during the crisis. The #NeverMoreNeeded campaign is a UK-wide push to remind the government, funders, donors and members for the public how we cannot afford to lose the voluntary sector organisations that we have come to depend on so much this year.
SCVO research shows that at the same time as voluntary sector organisations are seeing a rise in demand for services, they have been changing how they deliver and expecting or already experiencing a drop in income. The voluntary sector needs support more than ever to do what it does best during this crisis and beyond. We are joining in this campaign to help everyone understand the importance of a thriving voluntary sector on our own doorstep in Leith and north Edinburgh.