Covid-19 - A Community Response

At E2 we saw that many people were left reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the UK and our community. With the government's lockdown order commencing on 23rd March, many Beaumont Leys residents were isolated, with no one around them able to offer them help, comfort, or support in a time when they needed it most. We wanted to help those most vulnerable so we launched multiple projects in response, with the aim of meeting the varying and often urgent needs of residents. 

Emergency Food Parcel Scheme 

We adapted our Food Bank to become an Emergency Food Parcel Scheme, covering Beaumont Leys and Abbey ward. This initiative was the most rapid of our responses and at its peak saw over 100 food parcels getting delivered every day. These food parcels have ambient, refrigerated, and frozen food items that can help support an individual when they have been forced into isolation or were unable to afford food due to loss of income. This initiative utilised dedicated volunteers who would sort, pack, and then deliver food parcels and has run since lockdown was declared. We will continue to do so for as long as we are able to and there is a need. So far, we have delivered over 4,400 food parcels over a 12-week period.

Another aspect of this response was the fact that often food supplies were in short supply. To help reduce the need for additional food supplies our volunteers worked 6 days a week preparing freshly made meals in our kitchens. We were able to stretch our food supplies, and in the case of short-dated products were able to increase the life of the food by creating meals and freezing them. This meant that products with a short date of one or two days could effectively have a storage life of up to 3 months in the freezer. During 12 weeks from the start of the pandemic, we created around 5000 meals.

Some of our food distribution volunteers:

Rosie Kinder - “Volunteering at E2 has been a great opportunity to get out of the house and do something useful.

Whenever a food parcel recipient gives us a card, it makes my day and boosts my desire to continue the work I'm doing.”

 

Jay Laing - “Before I came to E2 I was homeless. They reassured me that it wasn't the end of the world, they would help me as best they can. 

They encouraged me to start volunteering because I'm an easy person to talk to, easy to approach. We all get on with each other.

I’ve made friends since joining the team, which is quite a feat considering we are all social distancing from each other !”

 

Johnson Erijo - “I thought I would just be volunteering for 2 days a week and I’ve found myself coming in every day. It’s quite addictive and it gives me a great feeling.

I get to make someone's day, even though they don't know me.

I know that my work is being appreciated.”        

 

Street Coordinators

During this project, a team of Street Coordinators have been going door-to-door in Beaumont Leys, checking on local residents and spreading crucial information about the help available to them. Many residents in Beaumont Leys, especially the elderly, do not have access to computers, so are unable to receive the information necessary to access the emergency food parcels online. The Street Coordinators are a direct and personal method of spreading information and ensuring no one misses out on the support available. In essence, they are conducting community outreach at a time when most people are hesitant to go into the wider world and are closing themselves off to others. 

We have visited every house in Beaumont Leys at least twice during the project, totalling over 3000 interactions. Through this door-to-door work, we made 66 direct referrals for food parcels, with the recipients often having the package delivered on the same day, if not the next. This rapid response meant that the anxiety that comes with uncertainty about access to food and fear of going out into shared spaces, is reduced for these residents. Primarily, the team were there to bring comfort and reassurance to residents who were scared and unable to access the support they needed.

Some of our Street Coordinators volunteers:

 

Andy Gale - “It was a good opportunity to continue to interact with people during the lockdown.

I met a lady who was receiving end-of-life care.

There was a language barrier, but we worked with a neighbour to overcome this and we organised for her to receive a regular food parcel.”

 
   

Louis Gavin - “I’ve met lots of frightened people, who were living in fear.

The fact that the project went out and spoke to people gave a lot of reassurance to those people.

Prior to DMU Local’s callout, I didn’t even know that E2 was there but it’s great that they are trying to help the community”.

 
   

Karen Thomas - “There was a lady whose husband had just come home from hospital.

He had spent 3 weeks  on a ventilator and we offered her the option of having a food parcel to reduce her mental stress, she was so grateful.They wouldn’t have known about us without our knock on her door at the right time.

Many people are happy to pass on the knowledge to their friends and neighbours who may not be able to answer the door because they are shielding. It’s great if the people we speak to never have to use us.” 

 

Telephone Befriending Scheme

Off the back of the emergency food parcel scheme, we saw that many of the residents who used the service were isolated and lonely. They were unable to interact with their support network and were desperate to have someone to talk to. With the help of a dedicated team of volunteers, we call up to 40 residents each week for a chat and to check in on their wellbeing. Often people don't require anything more than to talk to someone and to know that there is a person who will listen to them. The team has made over 250 phone calls totalling 36 hours of call time. 

Some of our volunteers:

 

Alison Bacon - “One person, she has two children, she has major health concerns, as do her children, but she’s so upbeat considering all that she’s dealing with. I really admire her, and I made a point of telling her this.
 
She’s going out and helping her neighbours, but I thought it was important to tell her that she deserved our help. She was so positive, and I try to keep that positivity with me in my everyday life.”
 

Angela Bailey - “One gentleman on my telephoning list was receiving a food parcel from us as part of our befriending service.

He was facing eviction and so I directed/referred him to the CALS service (Leicester City Council) who are providing him with support and ensured that he will be in accommodation for the remainder of the crisis."

     

 

If you’re interested in volunteering at E2, get in touch with us.

Funded by: The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicester and Leicestershire, The National Lottery Community Fund, Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland Community Foundation, Leicester City Council, Ward Councillors, AGCF Catholic Church Fund, National Emergencies Fund, Cadent, Crisis in this together, Severn Trent Water.

  

 

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