St George’s Center, Lupset

St George’s Center, Lupset

At St Georges we leapt into action quickly as Covid-19 started and Lockdown came into place.

Working with the Council we became part of the Community Hub network. At first, we were getting referrals from the Council, but then people self-referred and we had referrals from other organisations/agencies. It became apparent through being out talking to people and knowing families in the community, where the need is and how we could best support it.

One of the biggest things for us is that through increased outreach we’ve not only been supporting our regular participants to the Centre but have made connections with elderly people who didn’t know we existed. Supporting people getting their shopping and medicines has led to really valuable connections and interactions being made for the future. We’ve been operating befriending phone calls from the centre to chat to existing service users, and new referrals – its been like an osmosis, with the connections evolving and becoming important. The best thing is hearing the laughter as you walk past and hear them talking on the phone.

We have also built up unexpected links and synergy with business partners including Morrisons who have been fantastic.

We are proud of how as a team we’ve been able to respond so quickly to community need during this time. Individually we might have felt like we wanted to bury our heads in the sand over the pandemic – but together we’ve been strong and effective. Our CEO Berni literally just started in position before Lockdown and everything that’s happened was not in her Business Plan for this year!! We have the most exceptional volunteers who are invaluable for their insight into the community need. We are also proud of how we managed to keep the nursery open for Key Workers, this was important. The children in the nursery made thank you cards for people/organisations who were donating – everyone is pulling together. Young people connected to our youth project have been writing rainbow letters to people in the community – this has connected people and two people are now pen-pals. Even the PCSO’s helped deliver them.

Some of the projects we started during Lockdown we want to continue, like the Rainbow Letters, and one a volunteer started putting together ‘Recipe Bags’ a pack of food and a recipe card to create a meal for a family of four. Its been a great success and something we will build on. A lot of the activities for young people are running online, and whilst we are keen to do face to face again there are options to develop online workshops including in what we offer through Adult Learning and Employability. We want to continue and develop the amazing team spirit and responsiveness to the community we serve.

Berni O'Brien