My name is Stephen Reynolds and I am the Pastor of Church of God Shankill in Belfast. My background is in community development within the community and voluntary sector. I am involved in various community projects and I believe in empowering communities and individuals to identify needs and solutions.
In 2019 we established CoG Training as a social enterprise. It offers first aid, health & safety, fire safety, mental health first aid, adverse childhood experiences level 1 and 2 and safeguarding training. All courses are regulated by Ofqual. The profits from training courses are put right back into the work that we do within the community.
During the pandemic, we have adapted our work with a focus on supporting those in need within our community. We have provided food parcels, Christmas dinner, check-in calls and garden visits. We have also continued to deliver training to support community groups and individuals in meeting their legal requirements around first aid and health and safety.
Alongside this, we have continued to offer training to individuals and groups that are and will be supporting people during the pandemic. We have delivered a number of Mental Health First Aid Courses and Adverse Childhood Experiences Training.
We are keen to continue training people to ensure that there is a safety net for when we start to recover from the pandemic and return to a new normal.
Within the Greater Shankill Area community groups, projects and individuals have pulled together really well. At the start of the pandemic, there was a Greater Shankill Response Group establish to identify the needs and who was best placed to meet those needs. From that point, there was an amazing collaboration to ensure that people received the support they needed.
This support included food parcels, collecting scripts, posting letters and checking in on people etc. This collaborative approach is still working and meeting needs.
From our perspective of a training and education organisation, we see the need for increased training in Mental Health First Aid and Adverse Childhood Experiences.
We are already starting to see the impact on mental health due to the ongoing pandemic. We believe that this is only going to escalate. As such we want to see as many people trained up to offer support as possible.
We continue to see the need for food, electric and gas support.
We have also seen a great need for support around homeschooling. We have made ourselves available to support our local community by printing home learning resources and the use of devices.