Members of Penparcau Action Team, a coordinated volunteer community group working in partnership with other local organisations to provide logistical, organised and controlled community support during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to create challenges for the Trust’s funded partners, in finding ways to stay connected and continue to support their local communities’ urgent needs. However, even more projects have risen to the challenge this month, and are finding new ways to adapt and continue their vital work.

1.2 million people are estimated to be living in areas where many will struggle to access affordable and healthy food.[1] It’s clear that the Coronavirus is likely to have exacerbated the issue of ‘food deserts’, where affordable, quality food is not easily accessible to people, especially to those defined as vulnerable during this pandemic. Many of our funded partners are supporting access to food and essentials, by organising deliveries in their local communities or assisting their local food banks, among other activities to support their local communities’ urgent needs.

Since 2015, residents on the Old Fold and Nest estates in Gateshead have been involved in a Local Conversation project, supported by local community organisation Edberts House. The local residents identified priorities such as: activities for young people; employability, money management; health and bringing the community together. The area where they operate is in the most disadvantaged percentage in England, and one of the most disadvantaged areas in Gateshead.

Due to the ongoing lockdown measures, they have had to stop using the community centre, but are still determined to keep the community spirit alive, and keep people supported. They've leafletted residents, trying to reach people who might need support and inviting them to get in touch. They are also working with the local school, preparing packed meals to distribute to families who don't have access to enough food.

Sarah Gorman, Chief Executive of Edberts House, said, “At Edberts House we have been passionate about the importance of community and connecting people for 10 years – we are not going to be stopped by this virus! We leafleted all our estates before lockdown, with staff phone numbers for people to call, and we are in regular contact with residents by social media.”

Sarah continued, “Food parcels are going out to those in need, and friendly telephone chats. We are determined that by the end of this crisis our communities will be even more connected and stronger than ever before.”

Another project that has adapted to meet their local communities’ needs is the Local Conversations programme project in partnership with Penparcau Community Forum. Through the programme, the Penparcau Community Hub was built, and a minibus was purchased to provide community transport. The Hub and local volunteers are now at the heart of the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Penparcau Community Hub has established PAT (Penparcau Action Team), a coordinated volunteer community group working in partnership with Ystwyth Medical Group and Padarn Surgery, and St Ann’s Church. With support from the local community, they provide logistical, organised and controlled community support during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Although it is an ever-changing situation, the group plan to remain flexible throughout and their intention is to provide assistance and support to the most medically vulnerable within the Penparcau community. A large part of their work is supporting St Ann’s church by providing them with a much-needed delivery service to distribute food supplies to those most in need. Teams are dispatched daily from the Penparcau Community Hub in the minibus, and they have established a morning, lunchtime and teatime delivery service.

Speaking about the importance of the project, Colin Richard Jones MBE, Local Conversations Officer, said: “This is a vital link to the Community in these dire times, we are providing a lifeline of medicine, supplies, and morale”.

Volunteers from Holme Hall Unite, a project which usually runs a community hub in Derbyshire organising weekly activities, have been working to deliver food parcels and good cheer to local residents. Volunteers from Holme Hall Unite have been working to deliver food parcels and good cheer to local residents.

Tony, from the community group said: “So far we’ve had 330 food parcels delivered, 240 cartons of milk given away as well as bread distributed daily.

“We’ve also given away dozens of potted plants and bunches of flowers to keep people’s spirits up. To help those who don't have the internet to keep connected we are giving away free tablets too.”

Our funded partners are maintaining important social connections, but also making sure good quality food is accessible to local residents during the lockdown measures, continuing to address their local inequalities whilst delivering vital services during this unprecedented time.

[1] Can everyone access affordable, nutritious food? Kellogs Foundation 2018

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