The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on all of our lives. In some ways, ‘social distancing’ is exactly what Time & Talents has been working against for so many years, and we continue to work tirelessly to undo its negative impacts, even while we are all having 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 has been 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. During certain periods, we have had to stop being a place where people can meet, which has been immensely challenging for everyone. We know that we are needed more than ever, and we are at the heart of rebuilding our community even as we continue to navigate the crisis.

We are relieved that all of our face-to-face groups and activities have resumed. However, many people in our community will need additional help for some time to come, and we continue to deliver a wide range of services and support.

For more information, please get in touch.

Loneliness and isolation – vital social interaction

We know that pandemic restrictions worsened the isolation, loneliness, and mental wellbeing of people who are already isolated and sometimes suffering from mental health difficulties. During these periods we provided telephone befriending and other remote social contact. Team members made 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 were crucial, not just to deal with practical issues, but to show there was someone who cares and was there to listen. We also provided well-received activity packs to support older and isolated people.

Day-to-day living – practical support

Our volunteers provided collections and delivery of important items to isolated and housebound people during lockdowns. They 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.

Poverty, children and families

Our children and families support is vital. 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

During the height of the pandemic we  mobilised our existing pool of over 100 volunteers, and we were delighted and humbled by a huge volume of new volunteering applications – up to 200. We set up many new telephone befriending matches to keep our community connected, and to battle the isolation that this crisis  created for many of us.

Emergency Relief Food Hub (May 2020 - 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, continue helping to ensure that people are not left without support.

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