By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead


EVERY now and again someone will ask – ‘what does the Torbay Community Trust do?’ – and it is never an easy question to answer.

At any given time, TCDT is involved in dozens of projects across the Bay, working alongside many other organisations delivering and supporting services that people need, often when they most need them.

It even varies from week to week, so when, during a live broadcast on Radio Devon, I was asked the question, I was flustered and quickly discovered that given the limited time available, I was unable to do TCDT justice. In fact, in the six minutes that followed, I was only able to give a flavour of all that is going on.

Hopefully, most people know that we are heavily involved in the Torbay Community Helpline, which is the starting point for people when they need help and is the gateway to a whole host of things, including service delivery and advice.

In the first six months of this year, the Helpline received 13,625 calls, peaking at more than 600 a week – more than we received at the height of the first lockdown, which shows just how badly the cost of living crisis is biting.

The Helpline provides access to the foodbanks run by the Torbay Food Alliance and there have been more than 2,160 referrals already, with May and June of this year being the highest on record.

People are also turning to us for financial advice provided through our partners who offer the Financial Advice Information and Resilience (FAIR) service, who have recouped more than £1.2m in benefits and entitlements that were either unpaid or unclaimed.

Mental health remains a big issue being tackled through the Helpline whose call handlers can triage into services at the level they need, whether it is professional help or a specialist befriender.

Most importantly, perhaps, because the delivery of any of the above would not be possible without volunteers, it also acts as the first point of contact for people wanting to offer help, calling 01803 446022.

But away from the Helpline, there are a plethora of other projects that we help deliver, covering people of all ages and meeting a wide range of needs.

Take Sendiass (Special Educational Needs Information, Advice and Support Service) which provides help to young people & parents/carers of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities up to the age of 25.

Then there is the financial support and advice provided to organisations to explore the funding available to them. Our community funding advisor, Robin Causley, is responsible for helping bring in more than £1.2m a year to groups that then use it to benefit Torbay communities.

OurBus is a community-led Bus service, running the number 61 service from Livermead to Torquay, via St. Luke’s and the number 65 service from M&S on The Willows to Torquay, via Hele, St Marychurch, Babbacombe and Plainmoor as well as providing vehicles for days out for community groups.

Positive People and Steps Forward work with people struggling to find employment because of issues they need to come to terms with first. Positive People believe everyone should have the chance to succeed in life, develop skills and build a career. It is a flexible community programme designed to help people take positive steps toward building confidence, gaining new skills, and eventually moving into work or training

Similarly, Steps Forward is a supported volunteering project, helping people experiencing barriers to volunteering and employment. Most of the participants are people in recovery from addiction, but also include people with mental health problems and learning difficulties.

And of course, the bit that you probably know about, the Community Builders who have been working for the past seven years helping build stronger and even more resilient communities. They are the glue that helps stick everything else together.

As brief as I have been there is no space to reintroduce Imagine This Torbay, Torbay Together, the Torbay Assembly, the Volunteer Centre, the Community Café, the Torbay Advice and Mediation Service as well as the new projects – Live Longer Better and Local Motion…

You can see why it is easy to get flustered when asked the question “What does TCDT do?” More on this next week.