Croydon in Lockdown: Community comes together to help borough’s most vulnerable during Covid-19 crisis

Croydon’s voluntary and community groups’ work to support vulnerable residents through the Covid-19 crisis has been boosted with grants from the council’s Voluntary and Community Sector Covid-19 Emergency Fund, say the council in a statement.

More than 70 local groups applied for grants of up to £10k to strengthen their work, helping members of the community through the pandemic.

Two charities that were successful in their joint bid for grant funding are Cassandra Centre (CC) and Advice Support Knowledge Information (ASKI), who teamed up to deliver hot meals to elderly and vulnerable people in Norbury, Thornton Heath and surrounding wards.

They have been awarded a council grant of £7,688 to continue their work which was previously funded by private donations. CC chief executive Jennifer McDermott, said: “When lockdown started we acted quickly and started delivering food to elderly people, and to the vulnerable with mental health conditions.”

“We started supporting 30 residents in Croydon, but soon demand grew and we were preparing over 100 meals a week,” she added.

The charities, which usually support domestic abuse survivors, are continuing to support survivors during lockdown, and are also working to reduce the isolation and anxiety of those who are self-isolating.

This includes helping them to access other support and services by phoning them each week to check on their needs, and looking after their wellbeing via weekly online exercise sessions.

One vulnerable young man, who has epilepsy, and complex mental health needs is finding lockdown very hard. He lives a long way from his family, and the isolation has been making him feel very anxious. It’s been very difficult for him to sleep, which is a big concern for his family, as the sleep deprivation can trigger seizures.

His mum, Brenda, was full of praise for the charities: “Thank you so very much for helping my son,” she said. “The care and hot meals you provide for him are greatly appreciated. He received a lovely meal on Thursday and was very glad of it. He is far from home and it’s reassuring knowing he isn’t totally alone. Thank you again for all the help – your work is amazing.”

Croydon Covid-19 Mutual Aid group (CCMA) received a £5,000 grant to continue its work to promote emergency food assistance.

The group started with just a few people on Facebook who wanted to help their community in response to the pandemic, but quickly expanded to encompass more than 3,800 volunteers.

Residents from every part of Croydon are volunteering with CCMA, working together to make sure vulnerable and housebound local residents are supported.

This includes everything from buying shopping and collecting medication, to delivering emergency food supplies and leafleting the borough to help connect residents to support services.

Another organisation to successfully bid for funding was Good Food Matters. The charity which has been running since 2006, has been supplying quality meals to the vulnerable. Since the start of the Covid lockdown, it has seen demand rise from 40 meals a week to 220.

Its £8,780 grant is helping it meet this demand, enabling them to buy more ingredients, with the meals distributed via food banks in New Addington and Fieldway, and through Croydon Voluntary Action and Croydon BME Forum food distribution points.

The group also supplies the council’s Food Stop in New Addington, which helps families in need by providing very low-price groceries.

Cllr Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities, says: “I am so proud of the strong relationships we have with our community and voluntary sectors who are responding directly to the pandemic, above and beyond their normal activities.

“These are just a few examples of how the grants we have awarded are helping to support the incredible work these groups are doing aiding some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents.”

The Voluntary and Community Sector Covid-19 Emergency Fund was set up specifically to respond to the pandemic, and is in addition to the council’s Community Fund. (Source: Croydon council press release)

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