Alastair Stewart, Head of Grants, Partnerships & Community Services, talks about how the Foundation responded to the COVID-19 emergency to bring together different groups to work together for the community. The Community Response Team was built to focus on providing solutions for families and people experiencing food poverty and isolation.
“Our response was to set up a dedicated Community Response Team and work with partners to help the most vulnerable residents across Letchworth. The vision was to bring together groups in Letchworth that were willing to or were able to help during this crisis to mobilise and work together for the community. There is such a varied balance of groups and organisations that can help residents in Letchworth, and we felt we were well placed to bring them together and assist where needed. We wanted to help those experiencing food poverty and to find out who was already receiving support. For example, due to social distancing measures the Food Bank had to close but the partnership that was created with the local groups to help Letchworth run similar services for those in need.
“Made up of volunteers, the Community Response Team deals with phone calls from a wide range of isolated people who need food deliveries and prescription drop offs. We have also been able to link people with the groups and organisations that can help them the most.
“In addition to a phone line, we felt setting up an email channel as well as a phoneline would also help those who wanted to retain some anonymity or could keep conversations private. This is extremely important as people need to feel like they can reach out on their own terms.
“The Community Response Team also inspired us to change our Grants Programme to help community groups to survive the financial impact of the pandemic. These groups have also helped us identify the key issues and the needs in our town during this time, so we know how to assist people.
“The partnership we created has been able to link people with food groups to distribute Easter Eggs to cheer up families and maintain some normality. They have given books to those making food parcels to help people keep mentally active and helped distribute 500 hand sanitisers made by Letchworth-based Auto Glym to groups who needed them most.”
Our town is working collaboratively to ensure those in need do not go without. It is not just the groups listed above that are going above and beyond.. We have seen an outpouring of support from groups and individuals who are willing to go the extra mile to help and volunteer to a worthy cause. We truly are Letchworth United.”
If you are in need of any assistance, please contact the Community Response Team on 01462 530360 or firstname.lastname@example.org