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Torfaen Council draws up ‘Community Wellbeing Strategy’

Torfaen Civic Centre

PEOPLE shouldn’t be discouraged from coming forward for help by the use of words such as “crisis”, a councillor has said. 

Torfaen Borough Council is drawing up a Community Wellbeing Strategy that intends to set out how it, local voluntary groups and other public bodies – from community councils through to the Aneurin Bevan Health Board – work together to support people and build what it calls stronger and resilient communities. 

A draft of the strategy is due to go out for public consultation and members of the council’s healthier communities scrutiny committee examined it at their latest meeting. 

It aims to demonstrate how public services can support people at what are called times of crisis, which can range from financial troubles, to health issues or loneliness. 

But councillor Lynda Clarkson, who represents Abersychan, said wording used is important. 

The Labour member said: “It’s an issue of terminology. Crisis is quite a strong word and is subjective, it should maybe be, ‘difficulties coping with’. 

“A carer may be used to coping with extreme circumstances but they could get to a point they are not coping so well and a danger they do not look for some extra support when we call it a ‘crisis’. 

“You don’t need to be on your knees, and can’t cope no more, but starting to have some difficulties and are struggling. Presentation at an early stage is the best thing with any of these strategies.” 

Councillors have also said they believe the draft document should give a greater explanation of the Connect Network that aims to bring together community groups in Torfaen and share information about help and services available as well as building a directory of support available. 

It has already been agreed greater work should take place to make sure all councillors are aware of the Connect Network and how it operates in their wards. 

The committee also said the council should ensure the document is “truly accessible” to all residents, including those with disabilities or learning difficulties. 

Llanyrafon Labour member David Williams said: “That should be a part of all strategies that we have but is particularly relevant here.” 

Cllr Clarkson suggested the council could also produce short videos as part of the consultation on the document as she said “lots of people don’t do well with words or have sight issues”. 

The council’s intention is that the document helps explain how its “communities” approach that brings together several existing council departments into an “adults and communities” directorate is the “cornerstones in how council services are designed and delivered”. 

That involves designing services around communities through using data on issues such as health inequalities, education and poverty. 

Following the public consultation the Community Wellbeing Strategy will be considered by the full council for adoption.