OPAL Newsletter – OPAL Matters – June 2020

OPAL Newsletter – OPAL Matters – June 2020

Newsletter 7 – OPAL Matters June 2020

To read all the latest news at OPAL click on the link to download our latest newsletter.


Carers Week 8th to 14th June 2020

This Carers Week, is about Making Caring Visible for unpaid carers, that are looking after a family member or friend who has a disability, mental or physical illness, or who needs extra help as they grow older.

In the last survey of carers (2011) there were over 37,000 unpaid carers living in Cheshire West. 

Often carers feel isolated and they are seven times more likely to say they are lonely. Caring can be rewarding but also challenging, and many carers are currently dealing with more challenges than ever before. It is important that carers know how to look after their own health and wellbeing, and that we all recognise the contribution that carers make. Caring impacts on all aspects of life, from relationships and health to finances and work, and this should not be underestimated, and caring without the right information and support can be tough. 

OPAL runs two successful projects that support carers living rurally. These are BreakTime and Carers Connect.


Volunteers Week celebrations

Volunteers Week 2020 ends today but this year has been a Volunteer’s Week to remember.

Our celebrations were restricted due to coronavirus but we managed to deliver over 200 goody bags to volunteers in and around rural West Cheshire.  This was our Thank You to all our amazing OPAL volunteers, who between them have given more than 419 hours a week in the last year to prevent social isolation in older people in rural West Cheshire. Their response during Coronavirus has been fantastic and has ensured that our Members have continued to feel supported in uncertain times.

The goody bags, lovingly put together by our OPAL fairies, contained an afternoon tea, with a scone, some clotted cream and local jam, courtesy of Co-op, Berry Fresh Bakery and Clotton Hall Dairy and delivered courtesy of the Malpas Minibus. Also in the bags were a copy of our latest OPAL newsletter OPAL Matters, a newly branded OPAL badge together with a certificate and letter of thanks from Janet our Volunteer Coordinator and Jane, Chair of our OPAL Board of Trustees. The afternoon teas were enjoyed by all.

On Friday we ended the week with a Zoom get-together when over 50 of our volunteers joined us to celebrate our recent Queen’s Award and other successes.


Queen’s Award for OPAL Services

OPAL is delighted to announce that on 2nd June 2020 we were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services.   

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteergroups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of The Queen’s coronation. It is the MBE for volunteer groups.

Jane Colville, OPAL Chair, acknowledged the work of all the volunteers who support the charity – “all our wonderful Volunteers have earned this very prestigious national award in recognition of their hard work, commitment and skill. It is such an honour to receive an award of this kind.

During lockdown, our Volunteers have had to adapt to ensure we can still support older people and their Carers and they have done so swiftly and enthusiastically.  With the help of telephone befriending, a weekly news publication and regular Zoom sessions with guest speakers we are managing to keep supporting”. 

Cllr Val Armstrong, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health said, “It is wonderful news that OPAL Services have been awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.  OPAL volunteers provide vital services in some of our rural communities. 

I have volunteered with OPAL and I know just how much their work helps to reduce loneliness and keep people connected to their communities. All the volunteers and staff fully deserve this recognition of their commitment and dedication.”

To celebrate this news and in recognition of Volunteer Week, all OPAL volunteers received an OPAL goody bag with afternoon tea and are joining in a virtual Zoom thank you party at the end of the week.  


Marshes Community Benefit Fund award

The Marshes Community Benefit Fund has once again granted funding to OPAL Services. The funding is for the OPAL Branching Out service which operates in the Frodsham and Helsby areas. Over the next year this funding will assist in the recovery phase of COVID – 19 and also going forward.

Our thanks go to the Marshes Community Benefit Fund for their help and practical support.


OPAL Newsletter – OPAL Matters – April 2020

Newsletter 6 – OPAL Matters April 2020

To read all the latest news at OPAL click on the link to download our latest newsletter.


Community Response Fund application success

OPAL has received news from Cheshire West and Chester Council that our  Community Response Fund application has been successful. This very welcome funding will help us to continue our work through the Covid19 pandemic. 

This is great news because it means we can continue delivering all our befriending and support services to existing members and can also now consider supporting additional people through this difficult time. We are extremely grateful for Cheshire West’s and The Westminster Foundation’s support at a time when our normal fundraising activities have been brought to a standstill.


3 new OPAL services now up and running

Over the last few weeks OPAL has been redesigning OPAL Services to comply with social distancing rules during the coronavirus pandemic.

We have successfully set up 3 new temporary services, all based on the social distancing and safe working guidance, while still supporting our members who are now self isolating.

Our new services are:

  • A telephone befriending service to keep in touch with our most vulnerable members.
  • A remote GoOnLine support service to support our members make best use of communication technology while isolated.
  • An ‘OPAL Reach’ newsletter to help the OPAL community stay in touch.

We expect that normal OPAL services will resume as soon as the social distancing guidelines are relaxed.


Coronavirus update (Temporary closure of services)

Coronavirus ….an urgent message for all our OPAL members and volunteers

OPAL Services is very aware of the way in which the coronavirus is spreading and of the implications for older people with underlying health conditions, be they our members or volunteers. 

We have been taking advice from the Council and taking account of information from Public Health England on this very difficult matter.

We believe we need to temporarily close our services until we can guarantee a safer environment for the people we provide the services for, and for our volunteers.

Our Clubs at Frodsham, Helsby, Kelsall, Malpas, Tarporley and Tattenhall will be closed from Monday 16th March, as will all the other community services we provide.  Please get in touch with your Organiser if you need more information and we will post further updates as soon as we have them. 

Our intention is to reopen these services as soon as it is safe to do so.

This is a fast moving situation and we are aware things can change at short notice. Thank you for your support.  

Jane Colville

Chair of OPAL Services (Rural West Cheshire)


Coronavirus update

Coronavirus (COVID-19) bulletin

Catch it, Bin it, Kill it


OPAL Services would like all members and volunteers to know that we are monitoring developments in Coronavirus (COVID-19) very closely and will issue news updates as the situation changes. For the moment we will continue to observe safe hygiene practices and encourage all others in our OPAL services and settings to do the same. 


We do not expect people (staff, volunteers or members) to attend our services if they have heavy colds or flu-like symptoms. If you have concerns, we would encourage you to talk to your Organiser as soon as possible. We will remain alert to new advice and information we receive and will communicate it as necessary.


The following is an extract from advice given by the UK Government, Public Heath England. The full guidance can be obtained from the following link:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-social-or-community-care-and-residential-settings-on-covid-19/guidance-for-social-or-community-care-and-residential-settings-on-covid-19#preventing-the-spread-of-infection


There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. There are general principles anyone can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • washing your hands often – with soap and water, or use alcohol sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if handwashing facilities are not available – this is particularly important after taking public transport. Guidance is available on hand washing
  • covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in a bin. See Catch It, Bin It, Kill It
  • people who feel unwell should stay at home and should not attend work
  • employees should wash their hands:
    • before leaving home
    • on arrival at work
    • after using the toilet
    • after breaks and sporting activities
    • before food preparation
    • before eating any food, including snacks
    • before leaving work
    • on arrival at home
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • if staff are worried about their symptoms or those of a family member or colleague, please call NHS 111. They should not go to their GP or other healthcare environment

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