Grace: It was a very scary time and everyone was dealing with their own issues, their families, their children, their parents, or their work. Despite that, when we put up posters and sent an email to residents asking for volunteers, we were overwhelmed with the response. Within the first week we had set up a block rep system, with at least one volunteer in each block of flats as the contact point for anyone who needed shopping, help or just a friendly chat.
Barbara: More than 100 neighbours volunteered to help elderly and vulnerable neighbours – shopping, making meals, collecting prescriptions or phoning to have a chat. We set up a WhatsApp group so people could ask for or offer help, which is still going strong.
An ICU nurse at the Royal Free Hospital asked for a delivery of bottles of water because water fountains were shut and with all the PPE they had to put on and off, they couldn’t get out during breaks.
Cherie: Realising how difficult it was for ICU staff, I got together with some neighbours to help. As well as bottles of water, we delivered cooked meals and high-energy protein bars, and neighbours wrote messages of appreciation on packs of brownies. The nearly £10,000 we raised from residents’ donations also helped to create a ‘wobble room’ to give staff a quiet place to go, with massage chairs and relaxing activities.
There was a need for help with organising hospital PPE and other stockroom supplies, so a group of volunteers who had DBS clearance helped with that.
Roger: Everything we do at the community centre had to be cancelled. It became a question of what we could do with our resources. We were relieved when Camden Council asked if the centre could be used for Highgate Newtown Community Centre’s food hub. We turned a grit bin on the estate into a food donation box and from the first day, it was full.