Meet Stephanie our Local Community Planning Officer who has played a key role in helping local communities and services.
Making sure that vulnerable people and families can access food during the Covid crisis has been a key role for the Council, the Health and Social Care Partnership, and local community volunteers. Stephanie has been working across these partnerships and services to provide coordination and practical information to ensure that no one has gone without food (and other essentials such as medication) while we have been in lock down. The Covid situation has been fast changing and a lot of new emergency food related services have popped up in that time. Stephanie said It has been really exciting to see how our local communities and services have come together to make sure everyone is looked after.
Steph started working with ELC in 2006 after completing an honours degree in Health Science. She took up a new post in the Council's Homelessness Team as a Health Liaison Officer and then joined the Community Learning and Development Team as a Local Community Planning Officer. In 2014, she joined the Corporate Policy Team and has had a number of different work remits including poverty and inequality, Community Justice and supporting the work of East Lothian Armed Forces Covenant. The thread that runs through these remits is that they are all about trying to make people’s lives better, and working in partnership with a wide range of services to do that.
She has also been coordinating access to period products to people who need them. "We had a great scheme in place pre Covid where women and girls could pick up products free of charge from schools and other community buildings like libraries. After public buildings were closed we knew we had to think of other ways to get these products out so we sent boxes to the local hospital and school and community hubs. We also worked with the Cyrenians to get products sent to local charity organisations so they could get supplies out to families they work with."
"At the start of the Covid crisis we also set up a Fareshare Hub which uses surplus food from supermarkets and distributes them out to local community groups. The Hub is currently running from Port Seton Community Centre and it has been such a success we are now seeking a permanent base for it."
Steph added: "We know the Covid crisis has placed a terrible financial strain on many families and older people who haven’t been able to access the services they normally would use for food and companionship. We are very fortunate to have a strong network of volunteers in East Lothian who have been able to help by delivering a wide range of emergency food provisions. Some of the volunteer groups have even been making meals themselves to give to people."
Another activity Steph has been carrying out is working with volunteer groups and emergency food services to think about how we move from the response phase of Covid to the recovery phase while ensuring no one goes without a service they need.
Stephanie has also been continuing work to support the Community Justice Partnership and the 3 workstreams that deliver community justice work across East Lothian. "Covid has brought some significant challenges around how we work with people with convictions and will change the way we work in the future. A part of my job that I really enjoy is looking at how we can do things differently to benefit our local communities and reduce the impact of poverty and inequality."