THE Wee County's third sector is taking steps to safely re-start face-to-face services.

While many charities and good causes have been supporting people remotely or via emergency deliveries throughout the coronavirus pandemic, they also had to close their doors for a long period of time.

With restrictions easing, many are starting to engage directly with service users and are opening up their shops and social enterprises.

Clackmannanshire Third Sector Interface (CTSi) has been helping to prepare groups over the past month, running sessions to cover risk assessments and more.

Good causes are also receiving free signage, screen guards, floor stickers, tape and personal protective equipment – including face masks made by a social enterprise in the Forth Valley.

Anthea Coulter, chief officer at CTSi, has been overseeing the restart activities.

She said: “Many of our groups are working with their service users very successfully remotely by phone or video conferencing, but for some who trade or who benefit from face-to-face contact it is a welcome time to start planning to re-open.”

Charity Alloa Community Enterprises (ACE) is looking to re-open before the end of July, on a part-time basis for instance.

Home-Start Clackmannanshire has already re-opened its charity shop in Alloa along with the Cats Whiskers shop in the Hillfoots.

Mary Houston, general manager at ACE where a range of upcycled furniture is available, said: “We have moved the whole shop around to accommodate a new one-way system, with hand sanitiser and guards in place.

“We can receive donations but not from homes directly yet and those items that are dropped off are going to be quarantined for 72 hours.

“Our staff will all have separate belt kits for pricing and measuring to ensure we minimise contact with each other.

“It has been challenging thinking through everything and will continue to be so for a while yet but we hope to be back providing our full essential service to people soon and encourage people to follow us on Facebook to get our new opening hours and information on donating. ”

CTSi is offering good causes in the Wee County small grants of up to £300 to go toward unexpected costs.

Charities and groups in Clacks have until tomorrow, July 23, to visit for more details and to apply.