During these very unusual times, huge numbers of community groups have risen to the challenge to provide food and other essential household items to the most vulnerable and isolated in society.
One such organisation is Hamara healthy living centre in Beeston, Leeds. One day working on its array of community projects such as English classes, gym, learning disability day provision and the next day rallying to co-ordinate the community and organisational response to Covid-19.
The neighbourhoods around Hamara centre are some of the most deprived areas of the region and many families faced health, economic and education inequalities. Covid-19 brought further difficulties for many.
Very quickly, plans were put in place with Leeds city council to divert resources, in the main, towards this response. Hamara were designated lead local response organisation for Middleton and Belle Isle. They were also key in the response in Beeston to their existing service users.
With some staff self-isolating and working from home, a small team came together very quickly to carry our well being calls to service users, identify those in most need and arrange delivery of the items they needed.
Hamara have run a food bank for a number of years now, supported by the charity Fareshare Yorkshire. Staff and volunteers came together to pack up food parcels and deliver them around the area. Provision was also made to cook hot meals and distribute them to those in need or allowed some to purchase meals. To date, we have 37 people (likely to be nearer 200 when you include the full household family) visiting the Hamara food bank from Beeston neighbourhoods.
In Middleton and Belle Isle we are supporting over 200 people on a regular basis with food and pharmacy deliveries.
Staff have carried out well being calls to over 75 people and continue to do so on a regular basis.
We are also engaging with partners and local people via facebook, Whattaspp and Twitter.
We continue to run some online fitness sessions for members of the community, our instructor holds some live classes and also uploads videos for members to watch via whatsapp.
We managed to submit some funding applications for Covid-19 support and have been successful with donations from B&M stores, £1500.00 and the Martin Lewis Covid-19 fund who donated £5000.00, so many thanks to them. We have been supported by Asda also. These new funds have enabled us to purchase games, toys and crafts to keep children occupied at home.
An impromptu chat with the staff at Leeds baby bank brought us further donations of baby related items that we are very grateful for. We’d like to thank Faye and her team for all their help.
Those members of the community that have the means to help have been volunteering and donating further food, hygiene and childrens items.
As and when the lock down and isolation eases we may see the re opening of Hamara to the public, albeit with smaller groups, cycling some groups and staff with a ‘day on day off’ approach to ensure we meet any continued social distancing guidelines.
We continue to be led by Leeds city council, public health England and the Government as to any further changing roles and re-opening.