Community response team thanks volunteers

The Community Response Team (CRT), set up by the Heritage Foundation to support Letchworth residents during lockdown, has thanked the community for their incredible show of support as their helpline closes this week.

The team, made up of volunteers from the Foundation and the community, launched an Emergency Response helpline in March to help residents who were shielding and isolating from COVID-19. They arranged shopping and medicine deliveries and worked to reduce loneliness by referring people to local befriending services. With calls to the helpline declining over the last four weeks, the Foundation will work with its partners to see how the Community Response Team can continue to support the needs of the community in other ways from its closing date of 17 July.

From March to the end of June the Emergency Response Team fielded 1,029 calls, responded to 92 emails, delivered 598 food shopping deliveries and 134 prescriptions.  With some of calls coming from people living hundreds of miles away who were concerned for loved ones in Letchworth living alone.

Alastair Stewart, Head of Grants, Partnerships & Community Services at the Foundation, said: “So many vulnerable people have been supported through the collaboration of local organisations with charities and individuals rallying together. Our Emergency Response Team is one part of a town wide network providing much needed support across the community. Thank you again to all who volunteered and continue to volunteer their time answering phones and emails, preparing and delivering food and prescriptions. Your efforts are making a huge difference to so many people’s lives every day in Letchworth.”

With lockdown easing, the introduction of social bubbles and more people being able to leave their homes, the volume of calls to the helpline has significantly dropped. Those who still need support will be signposted to partner groups who can support them in the longer term. The CRT will now focus on providing a prescription service and a weekly shopping service to those still shielding and those who are more isolated.

The Foundation is now working with partners to review the CRT model to focus on the emerging needs of the community.  This will result in a new strategy which will directly respond to the needs of different groups in Letchworth.

If you need help outside of these hours, contact HertsHelp on 0300 123 4044 or email from 8am to 8pm 7 days a week.

Morrisons Letchworth have a dedicated telesales shopping service aimed specifically at helping to ensure vulnerable and elderly people can get the groceries they need. If you or anyone you know could benefit from this, phone 0345 611 6111 and select option five.  

The partners involved in the Community Response Team project include: 
North Herts District Council, Citizens Advice, Letchworth Foodback, Best Before Café, Garden House Hospice, Kings Community Church, the Salvation Army, Settle Housing, First Garden City Homes, Age UK and the school network.