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Talking Cafes keeping Somerset connected

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Anyone in Somerset needing information, advice, and support – or just a friendly chat – can now use Facebook Live to join people across the county for daily Talking Café events.

Typically running from local venues, Talking Cafes were set up in June 2017 as a collaboration between Somerset County Council, Community Council for Somerset and a range of community organisations to help enable people find and connect to support in their local community as part of the Community Connect initiative. 

Social distancing measures meant that these events had to be temporarily suspended, but they have now been relaunched digitally on Facebook Live, the social network’s live video platform. 

With live sessions taking place every day from 11am, the events have proven to be a lifeline to more vulnerable members of the community, many of whom will have had limited social contact since lockdown began.

A range of topics are discussed – from help and advice for staying safe, information about important services such as housing, finance, adult social care and children’s services, to light-hearted chat – and the events have proved very popular, with between 50-70 people attending the live sessions, and hundreds watching later.

The sessions are run daily from the Talking Café Facebook page (@talkingcafesomerset) by community and village agents, who help local people find the help, information, and support they need

As part of a vital community service commissioned by the council, the Community Council for Somerset`s community and village agents have played a vital role in the coronavirus response, working with community groups and volunteers to deliver a whopping 47,963 community activities across the county. Ranging from food and medication deliveries, sharing advice on benefits and paying bills, to helping provide hot meals to those in need, the agents have been a lifeline for some of the county’s most vulnerable people.  

Councillor David Huxtable, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for adult social care said, “Somerset’s network of community and village agents have been critical in helping us respond to the coronavirus crisis.

 “In addition to delivering food and medication, their local knowledge and long-established relationships with the communities they serve has helped to link some of our most vulnerable residents with the services they need. The way they have used technology to do this has been great to see, and highlights the importance of working together, staying connected, and reaching out to others to tackle the crisis head on.”

 Raj Singh, deputy chief executive at Community Council for Somerset said,

“Talking Cafés have provided a lifeline to members of our community that have been self-isolating at home, and it’s great to have them up and running again. We want to thank our community and village agents for their excellent work – though it’s a difficult time for everyone, by working together we can help Somerset stay connected, which has never been more important.”

In addition to joining the daily Talking Café Facebook live sessions, those seeking help, information, and advice can visit the Community Connect website: https://www.somersetcommunityconnect.org.uk/

Somerset County Council’s website also has useful tips and guidance – as well as further information about how council services are currently affected. www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus offers the chance for people to sign up via email to receive a regular update on Somerset’s response to the Coronavirus outbreak – including further emotional health and wellbeing tips.

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