We understand that COVID-19 is impacting on many of the groups funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, but we are also very proud of how those we fund in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors are adapting their services to support their communities.
In this blog we’re talking to The King’s Church based in Newport. They work with community and social agencies to supply food and other essentials to deprived communities and provide practical support to families living in poverty and deprivation. We spoke to Faye Edwards Volunteer Coordinator for their Jesus Cares project to find out more:
Adapting the ways of working
“We were mindful at the start of lockdown in that we thought about how we can could get our provision to people that need it to support the most vulnerable people in our community. We decided that the right call was to join forces with Newport City Council knowing that they were taking a big lead in helping those that were vulnerable and isolated.
We agreed with the council to trial delivering food to hubs that serve four local, geographical areas, and they’ve coordinated teams of volunteers to run a drop-at-the-door system for vulnerable people. We were concerned about how we could maintain a supply of food for people due to certain food shortages as that’s one of our main areas of work. The first few weeks were a little bumpy but we’ve been able to return to our usual supply level and continue our usual level of support. We wouldn’t have been able to do that without the COVID-19 grant top-up we received from The National Lottery Community Fund.
We have a lot of volunteers that are classed as vulnerable and have had to stand-down for the time being as they need to shield. That’s not been easy for them, but we stay in contact as much we can. We still have a core team of volunteers and we’re making sure that people are social-distancing in the warehouse, but it means our ability to work like we would normally do has changed. We now only have six people in the warehouse at a time which is a lot less than what we’d normally have.
As part of that we’re using our church auditorium as space to store stock where we can have more volunteers help us. We’ve had to change our volunteer schedule too; whereas we would usually have volunteers drop-in, we’ve had to create timeslots that people can book to volunteer their time. It means that people can still volunteer safely for a couple of hours rather than have lots of people at once.
It’s quite easy to lose perspective of how other people are experiencing the current situation. We’ve had people who have lost loved ones come into volunteer for us that have said it’s been positive for them to get involved for their community and make a difference for somebody else.
We wanted to make sure that we adapt in a way where we can get as many people involved as possible; so as well as having our core team in on set days we have created additional volunteer slots which are 2 hours long each which enables more people to get involved and help make a difference.
I think it’s important for communities that groups like ours have an ability to adapt and be flexible and be prepared to make changes to make things work for people. It’s really tough for people that are shielding, and for our volunteers who feel like they can’t help someone else. So we’re continuing to work out how we can help people getting involved and keeping them engaged because it’s fulfilling to help people, especially people on your doorstep.
Thinking outside of the box
In our warehouse we have a baby room, and we receive donations of children’s clothing which we then make into clothing packs to be given out. We had three palettes stacked full of donated children’s clothing that needed laundering, which is a lot of work for a small number of volunteers to take on. We essentially created a drive-by laundry, so we could limit our level of contact. We did a call-out to people that we knew with time slots to pick up laundry – they’d arrive and call us and we’d then load up their cars. We ended up having dozens of people washing for us in their homes, and couldn’t believe that that massive pile of washing which would normally take weeks to get through, was washed and returned back to us within a few days. That’s one way that we’ve been thinking out of the box and trying engage with people.
I think what’s important going forward is a sense of cohesion and community. At this time the ability to work together and for us all to focus on the same goal is more important than ever, and it isn’t easy. We want to make sure that people aren’t feeling isolated and that they are part of a community and that there is a common goal for everyone to work towards.”
Find out more about The King’s Church on their website.
The King’s Church have received a COVID-19 grant top-up of £50,000 to purchase and distribute food and essentials to support vulnerable people across South Wales. This is part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s commitment to prioritising applications for COVID-19 related activity. To find out more about our response and what funding we have available, visit our website.