Food and essential supplies
Since the beginning of May, we have been running a food distribution hub from our premises every week, to meet the increasing local need which is overwhelming existing food banks. This service is open to families and individuals in SE16 who are struggling financially and need support to get the food they need. You can help us to support the community by contributing to our fundraising campaign or sharing it amongst your network.
Initially, food and supplies are being delivered by a small team of staff (including using our minibus) and volunteers who have cars and bikes. In a few weeks we’ll keep delivering to those who need it, but will also open up for people who are able, to come and collect food packs. To access the service, please refer either through the Southwark Covid-19 Community Hub on 020 7525 5000 or by emailing our team, so we can conduct a brief assessment of need.
Loneliness and isolation – vital social interaction
We are extremely concerned about the isolation, loneliness, and mental wellbeing of people who were already isolated and sometimes suffering from mental health issues ranging from anxiety to psychosis. We are now providing telephone befriending and other remote social contact. Team members are making regular welfare/check in phone calls to older people at the time they would be attending their T&T group (such as the Happy Mondays social contact group, Stroke Club, Visually Impaired Group). These calls are vital, not just to deal with practical issues but to show there is someone who cares and listens. We are calling our most vulnerable adults (of any age) with serious mental health issues and long-term conditions, often daily, to offer reassurance and support.
Day to day living – practical support
We have immediately put huge resource into prioritising our lists of service-users and contacted those at highest risk to find out what they need. We’ve delivered emergency food packs and shopping, got people to vital hospital appointments, collected prescriptions, and pitched in on practical care support for a wide range of people in need.
Poverty, children and families
T&T’s children and families support has also been vitally important. Local parents are needing urgent help with emergency food packs for those whose income has vanished suddenly. We’re collaborating with the food banks and other voluntary and community sector partners in Southwark to get essential items to these families and others in need. With children now at home full-time we’re creating fun, weekly, online activity packs for children to support parents, for whom we know this is a stressful and uncertain time. Subscribe to the mailing list here.
Mobilising our community: volunteering
In parallel, we have mobilised our existing pool of over 100 volunteers and have been delighted and humbled by the huge volume of new volunteering applications. We’ve been setting up many new telephone befriending matches to keep our community connected and battle the isolation that this crisis is creating for many of us. At the same time, we have had to urgently refine and resdesign our processes and safeguarding checks to onboard this amazing new resource quickly as possible. (So please bear with us if it is taking a little bit longer to get back to you initially.)
Why it matters
In some ways, ‘Social distancing’ is exactly what T&T has been working against for many years – and we will continue to work tirelessly to undo its negative impacts, even while we all have to change the way we relate to each other for now. For an organisation that has supported the community for 133 years, including through two world wars, this is one of the most difficult times we have ever faced. Our services are a lifeline for some of the most vulnerable people in our community, and meeting face to face has always been the backbone of our work. The challenge is immense – but we know our community needs us more than ever. We will be at the heart of rebuilding our communities when we begin emerge from the immediate crisis – when the lock-down period is over, our community, and many of the people in it, will need additional support for some time.