Telegraph Hill community rallies together for vulnerable residents

The community is rallying round to help its most vulnerable residents. Pic: Antonina Mitkova

A community group of over 450 volunteers on Telegraph Hill formed after lockdown has fed over 200 households in the area since March.

What started out as a small group of a dozen people on WhatsApp grew to a community of over 450 volunteers, with everyone from delivery people and shoppers to web designers and photographers offering to lend a hand in helping the Telegraph Hill community.

Sharon Shamir, one of the organisers behind Telegraph Hill Covid Community said: “The most common call outs we get are from people who need basics supermarket drops, and prescription pharmacy runs for people who are housebound, elderly or self-isolating due to suspected coronavirus.”

As of April they are feeding over 200 households, roughly 588 people across the Telegraph Hill neighbourhood, and have given out 900 tins of baked beans, 2,000 eggs and over a tonne of lentils, rice and sugar since they started.

They put up leaflets around Telegraph Hill with their phone line and email address, which is the most popular way to contact them if in need of their support.

Within a week of starting up the community, they developed a partnership with The Hill Station cafe where they put together boxes of various fruit, veg, milk, eggs, lentils and rice to people who are isolating, prioritising those more at risk. 

Initially they were giving the boxes out at a small non-profit fee to cover the contents, but after raising over £17,000 in their local fundraiser which was supported by the Telegraph Hill community charity Bold Vision, they are now able to provide the boxes for free.

Shamir said: “We have a pool of around 450 volunteers, 50 of whom are active in any one week. Some of them do deliveries for us, some of them pack groceries, some of them staff our phone lines and email address to take help requests… we have volunteers doing administrative support, web support, tech support… even photographers have been coming in to offer their services. People have been giving themselves however they can to help our cause, it has been a real community response – one that I am very proud to be a part of.”

Shamir said things were not improving for residents. She said: “When we began the bulk of our work was to assist elderly people, but as things wear on we are seeing more families who, until recently would have had no problem feeding themselves, suddenly finding themselves in need of help due to a sudden drops in their income.”

“I expect we will see continued demand for our services after the lockdown is lifted unfortunately. I imagine that the economic consequences of Covid-19 are going to stretch for quite a long time, and services like ours, which get food to people at low costs and quickly, will become even more important as austerity draws in.”

The group is active on Facebook, where members can make posts about things that they are in need of and things that they are looking to give away. It is also the go-to place for updates from the organisers on fundraising and new partnerships.

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