Legacy of community response team continues


Legacy of community response team continues as Morrisons takes on shopping deliveries for town’s most vulnerable

Local people who benefited from the Community Response Team (CRT) during lockdown will still receive assistance with shopping deliveries thanks to supermarket chain Morrisons.

The CRT was set up by the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation to give a helping hand to residents who experienced food poverty and isolation during lockdown.  With the project ending after five months, those needing support with shopping have been transferred to Morrisons’ grocery delivery service.

Head of Grants, Partnerships and Community Services, Alastair Stewart said: “It’s very rewarding to see that we have been able to help so many people and that the shopping service will continue even though our project has come to an end.  We are grateful to Morrisons’ for supporting those who continue to need help.”

Yvette, Community Champion at the Letchworth branch of Morrisons said: “I have increased my hours so that I can do more for the community, this included the work with the Community Response Team. The Heritage Foundation came to me and explained that they needed someone to take on their service users. I am proud that they entrusted me with this critical work.”

The CRT was created in late March to assist the community in accessing the support they needed as the pandemic worsened. The Foundation worked with local charities, school, churches and groups to create a town-wide approach. Several Heritage Foundation employees were redeployed to help run the CRT at the start of lockdown. Among them was Heather McLaughlin who managed the Discover Letchworth centre.

At the height of the pandemic, Heather took on the role as manager of the Community Response Line in a matter of days: She said: “The team and volunteers rose to the challenge by quickly getting to grips with new resources and technology, some of which they hadn’t used before. Luckily, as the culture of the Foundation is very much about partnerships and working together, everyone mobilised instantly to help provide what proved to be a vital service for vulnerable residents.

“The CRT was carefully managed with the needs and privacy of the service user at the forefront of everything we did. I feel very privileged to have been able to play a part in helping our local community during these unprecedented times.”

From the end of March until the middle of August the Community Response Team dedicated more than 3,000 hours to supporting the residents of Letchworth during lockdown.  They also:

  • Arranged more than 600 food shopping deliveries to vulnerable residents or those in self-isolation.
  • Fielded 1,131 enquiries received via email and telephone.
  • Delivered 1,34 prescriptions to delivered to vulnerable Letchworth residents or those in self-isolation.
  • Worked with 30+ partner organisations, community groups and companies to help Letchworth’s residents through Covid-19. 
  • Awarded £53,866 grant funding to local groups working directly to care for those impacted by Coivd-19. 
  • Delivered 108 food parcels to community groups to distribute to Letchworth residents. 

Alastair added: “As well as supporting a large number of people during lockdown, the most notable legacy of this project is the strong partnerships that have emerged across the garden city.  We now have a deeper understanding of local need and how we can all play our part in addressing this.   This is very powerful and means we can act quickly to find collaborative solutions in the future.

“The Foundation would like to thank everyone who gave their time to the Community Response Team and to our partners who did so much to help Letchworth’s residents.”

Find out more about the Foundation’s grants programme.

Notes: 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