The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown has seen many volunteers and charities step up to help the most vulnerable members of society during these challenging times.
Below are some of the good deeds being dome by both charities and volunteers in Hackney, Lewisham, Croydon and Tower Hamlets.
Neighbours’ UK scrubs charity
Volunteers in Hackney have established a national charity to make and provide NHS workers with medical uniforms due to a shortage of supplies.
Neighbours Brooke Dennis, Maya Ilany, Annabel Maguire and Rebecca Zehr, who work in the fashion and charity sectors have established Scrub Hub, a charity aiming to supply NHS staff with medical uniforms – known commonly as scrubs – in an attempt to prevent doctors and nurses from taking coronavirus home with them on their own clothing.
A Scrub Hub spokesperson said: “Supplies of essential equipment including scrubs and PPE were at dangerously low levels even before we hit a crisis. Health care workers have been warning us about the starvation of the NHS for years.”
Since it was set up, Scrub Hub has expanded to include over 100 hubs across the country after the original team shared information they had gathered about the project online with others. This has now led to thousands of uniforms being distributed nationally.
The Hackney Wick branch of Scrub Hub said: “It is intolerable that brave NHS staff who are on the frontline in the fight against the coronavirus are lacking such basic equipment such as scrubs. That’s why we are doing the best we can to help plug the gap in the short term. We hope this scrubs shortage will be addressed and solved as quickly as possible and that NHS staff will be provided with all the tools and equipment they need to do their work.”
Scrub Hub was established after the original team comprising Dennis and co responded to a message sent out by Dr Katie Ward, who said she was struggling with sourcing the uniforms due to the increased demand.
Ward said that the new scrubs have been a great success: “They are making working easier and are helping to keep my family safe”.
The team also established a Go Fund Me webpage to raise money for the cause, combining it with their own finances. Any charitable funds raised are being used in the production of the uniforms. Any excess monies will eventually be donated to support NHS charities, in particular the NHS practitioners fund.
The four neighbours have based their operations at a textiles and crafts studio run by Dennis called Make Town, on Morning Lane, Hackney. Approximately 50 volunteers now support the production at the Make Town site, made up of professional sewers from the costume and garment industry and keen textiles hobbyists. The team uses the studio to order and cut fabrics before packaging the completed scrubs for distribution.
Scrub Hub volunteers are directed to follow Government guidelines on social distancing, which they adhere to by using a method of collecting the uniforms after they are left on door-steps and delivering them in the same fashion, with no social contact involved.
Written by: Joshua Lamb
Food bank for vulnerable
The Women’s Inclusive Team (WIT) set up a food bank at the Lincoln Centre and a Community Kitchen at St Paul’s Centre providing hot meals to Tower Hamlets residents during the Covid-19 lockdown, where people have been finding it harder to get essentials.
On April 30, Safia Jama, CEO of WIT, posted on their Facebook page: “#TeamTowerHamlets, did an amazing job today. 67 lunch time meals to elderly, 127 Iftar/dinner meals, 104 foodbank deliveries, nearly 200 telephone befriending, 73 volunteers supporting Women’s Inclusive Team to make a difference and supporting London Borough of Tower Hamlets residents. Thank you everyone”.
Inside the community kitchen, they are also doing a Ramadan Community Kitchen, for the Muslim residents to visit in the evening when they can break their fast according to daily sunsets. The amount of meals they are able to make in the community kitchen increases day by day, as well as the deliveries via the food bank.
The team has been receiving help through a fundraiser on GoFundMe, and on there, the fundraiser organizer, Jennifer Sutcliffe posted on May 1: “Thank you so much for all your generosity. We wanted to give you some idea of where your money will go towards. Since 8 March we have achieved the following; delivered over 350 food parcels via the Food Bank, delivered 3,020 hot meals to 172 residents, made 220 befriending calls per day to residents, helped over 520 of some of the most vulnerable residents in Tower Hamlets.”
By May 1 they had a goal of £10,000 donations through the fundraiser, and needed £2,000 to reach it. Two days later they went over their goal, now having reached £11,461; that caused them to raise their goal to £20,000 to be able to keep going and keep raising the numbers of meals and deliveries they have been making per day.
Written by: Valentina Romagnoli
Food charity makes difference
The UK’s largest food redistribution charity, fighting hunger and tackling food waste, has increased its food output to frontline charities during the pandemic lockdown by 90 percent compared to ever before.
FareShare UK asked for support from volunteers, funders, and corporate supporters to be able to fulfil their pledge to continue getting food out independent of the lockdown. Now, they have been getting even more food out than in the month before the crisis began.
On April 28, FareShare working alongside with Boots, they were able to deliver essential toiletries to NHS staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lewisham.
FareShare have written on their page: “In a matter of weeks FareShare has stepped up its emergency response, opening eight new warehouse spaces and signing up 500 more charities across the UK, the majority of which are delivering food parcels to families and individuals at risk of hunger.”
The charity has been receiving donations as well as many groups fundraising to be able to donate money to the charity, so they can continue providing food to vulnerable people and people in need.
At the moment, due to the massive increase in demands from FareShare, they are looking for more warehouse and driver volunteers to be working at their stores, to be able to provide support and food to the charities in need across the borough of Lewisham.
Written by: Valentina Romagnoli
Croydon foodbank helps vulnerable
A long-running community foodbank in Croydon says they are busier than before the lockdown started as people have been having difficulties to find or purchase food supplies in other local stores.
The Croydon Community foodbank are still in operation during the Covid-19 lockdown to help supply meals to more vulnerable and isolated residents.
Revivify CIC foodbank has been supporting families who have difficulties purchasing enough food in Croydon and neighbouring boroughs.
Fatima Koroma, director of Revivify CIC, said: “We continuously have to adapt during the epidemic. The first few services from our venue we tried serving from the door. This came with its own problems including anti-social behaviour. Then, we tried by appointment but we were quickly overwhelmed with the amount of assistance needed. My venue is small, so for the volunteer’s safety and my own, I needed a hall so we can observe the prescribed social distancing laws.”
Revivify provides nutritious foods and meals where people can tale and cook for themselves at home. They also provide toiletries and nappies for people who cannot purchase them in stores.
During the pandemic, the foodbank has been receiving help from other sources, which has helped them to keep operating and helping residents. Help has come from local residents and businesses, as well as individual local Councillors recognised the work the foodbank has been doing. Koroma is also part of two women’s groups, Soroptimist Croydon and has just become president of District, and also started helping a group in Croydon called Revive Your Soul. Koroma said: “These women have been a wonderful support mechanism when things get tough or I have an idea to develop.”
On April 29, the foodbank received donations of foods from shops, wholesalers, volunteers and others from across Croydon and South Norwood.
Soroptimist International (SI) member, Angela Edwards has been spending her time in self-isolation knitting scarves for the homeless. Rosemary Braid, Immediate past caretaker president said: “SI Folkestone, through some accessed funding, have been able to support the Folkestone Food Bank with £950 to enable them to purchase £5 Sainsbury’s gift vouchers to give out to needy families, singly or in multiplies, as donations of food items are obviously down at the time of great demand.”
Koroma said: “We have been operating for this long because local residents have always been generous. Some have given food knowing someone who visits us. We are making lots of new friends. What’s happening now is a recognition that this is the one thing everybody can do; we are locked away from doing much else. We have to look at ourselves, how we have been living, and the things we miss. Sharing a meal means we can care for someone else. We can all be wasteful when everything is in excess. Now we must learn to share our resources.”
Written by: Valentina Romagnoli