The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on all of our lives. For Time & Talents it has meant, during certain periods, having to stop being a place where people can meet and enjoy the chance to be part of their community. However, we have been delivering a wide range of services and support to our community throughout this crisis.

Emergency Relief Food Hub (closed March 2021)

In May 2020, in partnership with Southwark Council, we found a new role as a temporary food hub, storing and distributing emergency food and other essential supplies to households in crisis. This was to support them through the various lockdowns, and to meet the increasing local need which has been overwhelming existing food banks since the pandemic started. This service was open to families and individuals in SE16 who were struggling financially and required support to get the food they needed.

Essential food and supplies were sorted and delivered by a small team of staff (including using our minibus) and volunteers with cars and bikes. But it was always intended to be an emergency response to an emergency situation. Fortunately, with the rate of vaccinations being ramped up, we saw that there was light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, and that we could start to reclaim the Old Mortuary as a meeting place rather than a food store.

We are very grateful to the funders and individual donors who contributed so generously to our food hub operations. Other providers, who are larger and better resourced, are now helping to ensure that people are not left without support.

If you still struggling with not having enough to eat, get in touch with the Time & Talents team, who can help you access other services.

Loneliness and isolation – vital social interaction

Lockdowns have worsened the isolation, loneliness, and mental wellbeing of people who were already isolated and sometimes suffering from mental health difficulties. We have therefore been providing telephone befriending and other remote social contact throughout the pandemic. Team members make regular welfare and check-in phone calls to vulnerable older people, often at the time they would be attending their T&T group (such as the Happy Mondays social contact group, Stroke Club, or Visually Impaired Group). These calls are vital, not just to deal with practical issues, but to show there is someone who cares and is there to listen. We continue to provide activity packs to support older and isolated people.

Day-to-day living – practical support

Our volunteers have provided collections and delivery of important items to isolated and housebound people during lockdowns. They have also helped people get to vital hospital appointments, collected prescriptions, and pitched in with practical care support for a wide range of people in need. We continue to offer this kind of support.

Poverty, children and families

T&T’s children and families support has also been vitally important. Local parents have needed urgent help with emergency food packs when, in many cases, their income has vanished suddenly. We continue to collaborate with food banks and other voluntary and community sector partners in Southwark, to get essential items to those families and others in need. During periods when children have been at home full-time, we have created fun activity packs for them – we know what a stressful and uncertain time this has been, and continues to be, for kids as well as adults.

Mobilising our community: volunteering

Over the course of the last year and a half, we have mobilised our existing pool of over 100 volunteers, and have been delighted and humbled by a huge volume of new volunteering applications – up to 200. We have set up many new telephone befriending matches to keep our community connected, and to battle the isolation that this crisis has created for many of us.

What happens next?

We will continue to offer telephone befriending, as this has been extremely popular, alongside the return of the services and activities (where possible) that our community knows and loves.

We can’t wait to see you again! 

Why it matters

In some ways, ‘social distancing’ is exactly what Time & Talents has been working against for so 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 135 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 formed the backbone of our work. The challenge has been immense – but we know that our community needs us more than ever. We are at the heart of rebuilding our community even as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Our community, and many of the people in it, will need additional support for some time to come.

For more information, please get in touch.