Covid-19 - Wales Action Plan
In the face of a national threat, we must come together; even in these challenging times there is opportunity and a chance to work together to protect ourselves, our families, our neighbours. We in Wales have already shown this in the hundreds of community initiatives already in response to the crisis. But our local response needs a National direction.
A National Health and Wellbeing Volunteer Platform
People across Wales have made it clear - they want to help their neighbours and their communities over the coming weeks and months in any way they can. Where people have access to networks and information about volunteering, they are offering their time, skills and support. Welsh Government should harness the energy and goodwill of people across Wales who want to volunteer and help people in their communities by allocating funding and resources to create a joined-up, coordinated digital platform to help volunteers find roles that suit their skills and needs - putting people in touch with local schemes that already exist, and adding to the thousands of volunteers we will need over the coming weeks and months as we continue to support our NHS and other organisations caring for our most vulnerable citizens.
Funding where it matters: A Wales-wide Covid-19 Charitable Fund
A national fund to provide financial assistance to community initiatives that will be supporting some of Wales’s most vulnerable people over the coming weeks and months, in particular initiatives such as Food Banks and community support networks. The funds will be collected centrally by Welsh Government and matched up to the value of £10 million, with businesses also invited to contribute further to the match fund pot. For every £10 donated by individuals, the match fund will double it. Funds will be distributed on a weekly basis to Local Authorities and charities across Wales to support ongoing efforts to help the most vulnerable people in our communities.
Covid-19 Community Groups: No Community Left Behind
A clear sign of the kindness and solidarity of the people of Wales can be seen in the hundreds of community initiatives organised through social media to provide local support and services to their communities, be it through shopping, collecting medicines or checking-in on neighbours. However there are some areas where that support has not yet developed, or could be developed further. Funding and resources should be allocated by Welsh Government to recognise examples of best practice when it comes to creating and mobilising local Covid-19 community support schemes, and aid the development of similar groups across Wales.
Tackling Loneliness: A Telephone and Video Support System
Loneliness can have a devastating impact on an individual’s health. During this time of self-isolation, those who live alone, particularly older people are at risk of becoming increasingly lonely. We need to build on the good work underway through local groups and organisations such as AgeCymru’s Check in and Chat service to ensure that no one’s health and wellbeing is compromised as a result of loneliness. This service would train volunteers to proactively contact people within vulnerable groups to offer a simple telephone or video chat, and to signpost people to services by national and local organisations and charities.
Innovate to Save Lives
In response to this crisis Welsh innovators and medical professionals have created new ventilation equipment within just a few days. We can do more. Welsh Government should create an immediate and easily accessible £50 million fund for credible teams to address the various aspects of rapid testing, diagnostics, treatment, supply and procurement issues and equipment posed by the Covid-19 crisis. Allocation of funding would have to be prompt, with autonomous decision-making run by Industry Wales in conjunction with Welsh innovation teams such as Y Lab and M-SParc.
Covid-19 Relief for Mind, Body and Soul
As people across Wales are currently experiencing social isolation, many of our usual hobbies and interests are just not possible to enjoy, or at least not in the same way. For others this uncertain time is leading them to explore new hobbies and interests. We are fortunate that technology allows many of us to access online content, including music, art and literature. However many of our artists and performers, like so many of us, have lost countless opportunities to work due to event cancellations over the coming weeks and months. Welsh Government, in collaboration with key organisations such as the Arts Council of Wales and Literature Wales should develop a digital arts project, similar to the Federal Arts Project as part of the American New Deal to commission and support the Welsh arts industry over the coming weeks and months.
In the same way, support should be made available for the hundreds of fitness and wellbeing professionals, many of whom are self-employed, to support them to diversify their training and deliver it digitally to clients and new customers. Targeted funding will also be required to support the network of local sports clubs across Wales who face uncertainty over the coming months as training, competitions and fundraising are suspended.
As we all keep social contact to a minimum, the ability to keep business and family relationships going is of paramount importance.
The availability of superfast broadband should be accelerated and discussions between Welsh Government and broadband providers should be prioritised.
Business Diversification Support
Support for businesses across all sectors, and of all sizes have dominated social media and news outlets over recent weeks. While Plaid Cymru is continuing to fight for fair support and funding for Welsh businesses, we also admire the agility of some businesses in Wales to diversify in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Welsh Government should invest in online training, seminars and business mentoring to help businesses of all sizes to respond as positively as possible to these challenging times for retailers, tradespeople and service providers.
Our high street shops across Wales are sadly temporarily closed, and as craft fairs, markets and festivals are likely cancelled over the coming months, the businesses who rely on Wales’s vibrant summer events will lose opportunities to sell their produce. Welsh Government should develop and launch a Made in Wales platform for craftspeople of all backgrounds to promote and sell their goods to people in Wales and beyond.