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.
Second Lockdown Response
Our Recipe Bags have really taken off over the past few weeks. So much so that we have recently received some funding to continue and expand the project. Originally, the recipe bags were given out with food parcels but we have decided to continue the project on its own as well. They are predominantly given to families at the moment but are open to all. As well as providing a fun activity for families and individuals, they also provide a platform for us to disseminate any information that we need to, in the form of leaflets and such.
We have a volunteer that helps us with the project and we are currently working on creating ‘Start up Packs’ for people. These will provide basic cupboard items and a list of equipment that people might need to complete the recipes; such as a spatula etc.
Over the next few weeks we will be working on re-marketing the project with the new changes and new packs. We are also working with a dietician at Wakefield One, to help with the expansion of the project as we aim to keep the Recipe Bags simple but healthy. We want people to be able to replicate the new recipes that they learn, so we are always thinking about budgets.
Currently, people come in to collect the Recipe Bags on their own or when collecting a food parcel.
We have an amazing group of volunteers that help at the Food Bank. During the first lockdown period, many of these volunteers were furloughed and some have even come back to help again recently. The Food bank operates three days a week for people to come in and collect food parcels. We have experienced overwhelming generosity from the local community in supporting with food and donations during the coronavirus pandemic and have recently received some donations from private organisations too.