At a time of crisis, London has come together. As the threat of the coronavirus spread, communities have united to support one another to overcome this turbulent time together. We have seen the local government sector pool its resources to deliver food parcels, medicine and offer financial assistance for those in need.
Community and Voluntary Sector
Barking & Dagenham Council
The voluntary sector community in Barking and Dagenham is set to benefit from an injection of £100,000 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The funding, known as the COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund will be held by Barking and Dagenham Renew, a charity launched by the council.
Barnet Council is pledging £125,000 of funding to aid the work of the borough’s voluntary and community groups as they support the people most affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
The council is contributing £50,000 into the Barnet Community Response Fund and is also committing up to £25,000 to match pound-for-pound public donations. In addition, the council has worked with the trustees of the Edward Harvist Trust to make available a further £50,000 of their allocation to Barnet as a Covid-19 Sustainability Fund.
More than 600 volunteers have signed up to the new volunteer hub following the councils call to #doitforbexley, to help during the Coronavirus pandemic. Bexley is working with their partners in the voluntary sector to get help to those who need it and alleviate the hardship and consequences of falling income on residents.The council also set up the new Bexley Coronavirus Helpline - for residents who need help because they don’t have any family, friends or neighbours who are able to assist. It handles calls ranging from requests for information and advice to basic food and medicine deliveries.
So far, the Bexley helpline has received more than 750 calls. A small army of Council staff have been working around the clock to organise the boxes and their contents that include pasta, squash, soup, cereal and rice. Council staff have also made over 230 welfare visits to specific residents to check that they are okay. Before the visits are made the Council will have contacted residents by email and by telephone. Nearly 100 medical collections or deliveries have been made to residents following helpline calls.
Over 4000 residents and several voluntary groups have stepped forward to help in response to the Council's appeal for assistance during the coronavirus pandemic. The volunteers are on standby to provide practical assistance to those who request it as part of the emergency response to Covid-19.
This work complements and supports the government’s shielding programme locally, with food supplies already being delivered locally to those who have applied to government as part of the national shielding initiative.
Bromley Community Links is co-ordinating the volunteer response and helping to match volunteers with residents who have requested assistance. Assistance being offered to vulnerable residents includes shopping, collecting a parcel, medicine collections and friendly phone calls.
With libraries being forced to close during the lockdown, the Council are offering free online classes. Over 600 different sessions for all abilities, ranging from beginner’s sessions for those who are new to exercise to high energy workouts, from Zumba and HIIT to Yoga, Pilates and Mindfulness are available. Library staff have added to the online offer during lockdown, filming themselves at home, to produce more than 300 videos of rhyme times, story times, sing and sign, craft sessions, poetry readings and science sessions.
The council and its partners organisations have launched the Choose Your Future campaign - a local package of online and telephone services to connect with young people throughout lockdown. Young people in Croydon are being encouraged to access a huge range of activities, opportunities, information and support to help them stay safe and well during Covid-19.
Council funds have been set up to support groups whose costs have been hit by Covid-19. This includes an emergency fund, with over £120,000 awarded to date to voluntary and community groups facing financial challenges as a direct result of Covid-19 costs; a £135,000 Cultural Relief Fund; and a council grant fund of £10,000 taken up by over 1,200 small businesses so far that receive small business or rural rate relief.
City of London
City Bridge Trust has pledged £1m to a new emergency support fund to help London’s community and voluntary organisations affected by the impact of Covid-19. The aim of the emergency programme, known as the London Community Response Fund (LCRF), is to throw a lifeline to charities that are facing immediate financial pressures and uncertainty.
Ealing Council has joined forces with charities, local groups, businesses and concerned residents to rapidly respond to the coronavirus crisis and launch a new coalition called Ealing Together. Around 500 people have already stepped up to help in the local Covid-19 effort. Ealing Together is designed to support the good work already going on in the borough. Residents can also use the dedicated website to safely request support for themselves, a vulnerable family or someone else they know who is isolated and struggling through a structured and trusted referral system. Shielding residents in the borough who the council has not been able to reach by phone or letter, will receive a doorstep welfare check, carried out by Ealing Community Transport (ECT). They will confirm whether support is needed for those shielding or if they can be removed from the list.
The council has put aside an initial £1.5million COVID-19 Emergency Fund to help support the Ealing Together work and ensure that important local groups have the capacity to respond to the scale of the crisis.
Enfield Stands Together hub was set up by the Council to deliver food and other essential supplies to thousands of Enfield residents as part of the borough’s response to tackling coronavirus. It is staffed by more 40 Council workers and supported by a dedicated call centre. The supply centre is also co-ordinating pharmacy pick-ups where these are required. Fresh food, larder staples and ingredients are all on offer to groups and charities who are helping to get meals to isolated and vulnerable people and to help cater for Enfield’s diverse communities. Enfield Council’s Community Pantry catered for more than 1,250 households within its first month. The food is sourced by The Felix Project and donated by Enfield organisations.
Age UK Enfield has also worked closely with Enfield Council and the Enfield Stands Together campaign since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, helping to make contact with elder members of the community who may be cut off.SocialBox.Biz collects equipment and after sanitising, data wiping and installing software on them, distributes the devices to vulnerable adults and older people who may be isolating due to COVID-19 but still need access to vital information online.
With many Enfield households already struggling financially, the pandemic brought added pressure to households who did not have easy access to food and least of all sanitary products. ‘Period poverty’ is a growing concern in the UK. With families having to make a choice between menstrual hygiene products and buying food. A team of volunteers supported by the council made hundreds of handmade, reusable and environmentally friendly pads. This was then passed on to the Enfield Food Bank to distribute as part of their Covid-19 food aid packages.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council
Hammersmith & Fulham launched its Community Aid Network (H&F CAN) a week before the lockdown. The network now has more than 2,000 registered volunteers and a dedicated seven-day call centre offering food parcels through H&F Foodbank, befriending phone calls for the lonely and isolated, personal shopping, and support for shielded residents. Volunteers are also working at a new H&F Foodbank operation based at Olympia London, arranged by the council. CAN has embedded a CRM system including automated facilities to strengthen pro-active outreach to shielded residents and filter volunteers into ongoing community resilience work.
H&F’s has produced a hard-hitting public health advertising campaign featuring 200 lamp column banners across the borough urging residents to ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ and to ‘Practise Safe Distancing’. The campaign also featured 500 vinyl banners in parks and adverts on major digital billboard sites. The designs went to print before the Government unveiled its own Stay Home messaging and have been used by other London boroughs, as well as featured by The Guardian, BBC and Le Monde.
Havering Music School has gone online during the lockdown to continue to deliver lessons to over 650 students and inspire the community. Teachers at the school are now doing one to one music lessons with students over video calls, teaching pupils from 5 years old through to 18 a whole range of different disciplines. Other teachers are producing free online tutorials, music sheets, and quizzes to keep students busy during lockdown.
Havering Council has frozen music school lesson fees to ensure that those financially struggling are still able to continue learning.
The school has come up with intuitive ways of keeping the students engaged and providing the community with a much-needed respite from the coronavirus crisis. Live at Five is a live music initiative produced by the school, where students and teachers play music to their neighbourhood every Friday at 5pm. Live at Five has proved a hit, with many taking part each week, giving people the chance to perform what they have been practicing whilst lifting community spirits and connecting with their neighbours.
The council is working with H4All, a partnership of five leading local charities, to provide a community support service for local residents who are unable to leave the house because they're ill, caring for others or are self-isolating due to coronavirus and do not have a friend, neighbour or family member available to support them.
Hounslow’s Community Hub has been making sure thousands of vulnerable and isolated people have been getting the support and supplies they need. The Hub is a joint community effort, with the Council working with voluntary and community partners, businesses and hundreds of local volunteers.
To date, the Hub has delivered about 4,500 parcels containing a wide variety of fresh and healthy food, medical supplies, household goods and pet food.There’s also a helpline and email address for other support, and a befriending service for isolated residents.
Since opening in March, staff running the Hub’s call centre, who have been redeployed from other roles such as customer services and libraries, have directly contacted over 10,000 vulnerable residents.Staff have been reaching out to this group, identified by the NHS as needing ‘shielding’, to talk to them about what support they need and how the Council can help. Staff have also received over 7,000 phone calls and emails from residents in need, or from people who are concerned about someone they think may need help. The number of residents who have offered to help now tops 450, and they’re being assigned a range of roles, such as befriending, packing and delivering parcels, and collecting prescriptions. More than 80 local groups and businesses are directly involved through donating supplies and helping residents.
The Council launched the Community Hub to support residents during the Covid-19 pandemic and thousands of volunteers came forward to offer help to vulnerable people who are most in need during this time. Greenwich received an incredible response with over 1000 residents volunteering their time. Volunteers have been helping with everything from food shopping and dog walking, to delivering prescriptions and calling people for a chat to helpwith loneliness. This scheme is continuing to support residents today and will continue until further notice.
The Council partnered with Charlton Athletic Community Trust and Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, to test older residents for Covid-19 in 11 of their care homes 5 days a week. This process began on 3 July.
As libraries across the borough were closed during the pandemic, the Council worked with businesses to set up community libraries to give residents access to a selection of books. The volunteer-run community libraries were located in stores across Abbey Wood and Plumstead, stocking up between 12-20 books. Volunteers attend the libraries each week to rotate and maintain stock, providing a good mix of adult and children’s books in a variety of genres. This has kept all ages engaged in reading during this time, by allowing them to borrow books despite library closures.
Other creative ways the Council kept residents engaged was by hosting many virtual events over lockdown. A few of these include VE Day, Easter bonnet parade, Mayor’s chin competition and Greenwich in Bloom.
We are Islington helpline is run by Islington Council in partnership with local charities, community organisations and mutual aid groups, offering assistance to those in need with food drops, medicine and other practical support. So far over 1000 support packages have been delivered to vulnerable and self-isolating residents who have been affected by the pandemic.
Kensington & Chelsea Council
SUEZ are a waste collection service run by RBKC. Refuse collectors are helping out during the coronavirus crisis by checking on the welfare of elderly residents on their rounds. The Coronavirus Hub was set up to help ensure some of the most vulnerable residents get the support they need and co-ordinates council support together with voluntary organisations in the borough.
Kingston Stronger Together was established by Kingston Council and voluntary partners, to ensure residents get the help they need during the coronavirus pandemic.
The council set up a new online hub and phone service working with voluntary sector partners to assist Kingston residents who are isolating or shielding because of the outbreak get the help they need. The network is supporting and coordinating the volunteering efforts across the borough. From delivering prescriptions and providing a new befriending service, to sourcing and delivering meals and food parcels. Over 1000 phone enquiries have been answered from the dedicated Covid-19 support helpline with 5,800 proactive calls out.
The Council’s Neighbourhood Rangers and Cycle Instructors have teamed up with volunteers from Good Gym to deliver 302 medical prescriptions for residents across the borough and 144 vulnerable residents have been paired with a 'buddy'. The network has sourced and distributed over 10,000 frozen meals and more than 2000 food parcels to vulnerable residents. For those who can afford to buy their own food but can’t leave their homes, the council have launched a shopping service and deliver supermarket orders that have been booked for collection.
Every week, there is an exciting line-up of digital events taking place on their Facebook page, including the popular Rhyme Time for Under 5s, anxiety workshops, and e-book reviews.
Redbridge Joins Together Facebook page was set up by the Council and other voluntary and community sector agencies to bring Redbridge communities together in a virtual space when the pandemic kept people physically apart. It's become a vital resource where 1900 local people and businesses could get reliable information about ways to cope with living in lockdown. The council also pulled together a resource directory from it which offered local help from food delivery companies, online learning, wellbeing support, bereavement support and even financial aid options to residents who didn’t qualify for government aid.
Sutton Council and ViaVan have come together to introduce a technology-driven solution to support the Council’s delivery efforts to vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 outbreak. This emergency operation has brought together the Council and the voluntary sector to distribute food parcels to shielding households with no other access to food or with specialised dietary needs.
At its peak, the Hub was delivering over 700 weekly food parcels to 1,100 residents. The Council set up an online triage system to identify the additional support people needed such as safeguarding referrals, debt management, welfare support, befriending and the collection of prescriptions. On receiving the shielding lists from the Government, a Council triage team contacted each individual to understand their needs. Data-sharing agreements were quickly put in place with the voluntary sector so that referrals could be made to the most appropriate organisation for the support required. In total, over 600 Sutton residents were contacted and received the support they needed in this way.
Sutton Council was also quick to utilise the huge increase in volunteers at the start of the crisis - the first week alone seeing more than 500 new volunteers register. Recognising that the voluntary sector was best placed to coordinate and manage this huge increase, the Council worked with the local Volunteer Centre to provide them with the resources to ensure they could plan and utilise volunteers across the borough's Covid-19 response. In total more than 2,500 people have volunteered since the start.
Tower Hamlets Council
Tower Hamlets has set up a new phoneline to support residents that have been identified by the NHS as being extremely vulnerable and at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus. The new council phoneline will help those residents living in Tower Hamlets, their families or their carers if they have any urgent requirements. They can also use the line to speak to the council about any concerns they have around social isolation and any help they may need including food supplies, access to medication and worries about debt.
The council has committed to continued support of the vital voluntary and community sector (VCS) through the current coronavirus pandemic. This includes funding organisations through the Local Community Fund, small grants and funds for those transitioning from mainstream grants, and contacting organisations that might qualify for a three-month rent holiday. The council has provided almost £100,000 in rent relief to 24 community organisations facing uncertainty due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Volunteers, community groups, partner organisations and council staff are working together from across diverse communities to tackle coronavirus.
So far 2,104 volunteers have been recruited by the VCTH helping to pack and deliver over 4,945 food parcels and hand out 70,065 free hot meals to pupils and families in need. Mayor John Biggs has established a new £10.5 million fund using money received from a government fund. A new service investment fund (SIF) is the latest in the council’s response to coronavirus and will focus on supporting vulnerable residents and those badly affected by a sudden loss in income.
Waltham Forest Council
The council started the Community Help Network helpline to provide emergency food parcels, and other support, for older and vulnerable residents who needed help when lockdown measures first began and caused supermarkets to be overwhelmed. A new paid for service was set up the council, working with Morrisons to provide a food parcel doorstep delivery service to support residents in need and those over 70. With the help from volunteers, over 3,400 food parcels have been brought and distributed to residents in need.
The Council have published a free electronic cookbook - A Taste of Westminster, which is filled with recipes by residents, organisations and local businesses from across Westminster. The first edition records a range of stories, experiences and recipes that encapsulate the strength and community spirit shown by residents during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Barking & Dagenham Council
Residents of Barking and Dagenham who are struggling to pay their bills or just want to make their money stretch that little more can join the council’s Community Food Clubs and be able to get shopping worth £20 a week for free during the coronavirus pandemic. Members of the community food club also have access to a wide range of services, providing advice and support with finances, employment, housing and health.
The Council is donating £10,000 to Bexley’s foodbank to help it respond to unprecedented demand during the coronavirus pandemic. The money will be used to buy food for some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents, who receive food vouchers. Over 600 boxes of food have been delivered to some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents following calls made to the new Bexley Coronavirus Helpline.
A further 210 boxes have been delivered to residents who are included on the Government’s national ‘shielding’ list. Staff have made contact with over 1,380 Bexley residents who have been included on the list. The ‘shielding’ list is made up of the vulnerable people who are most at risk from Coronavirus. The team have been offering them a free essential food box, delivering prescriptions and visiting their properties and offering any other service.
In the four weeks since the lockdown began, 3,500 doorstep deliveries of food and essential supplies have been made to those identified by the Government as most at risk from the coronavirus and who are self-isolating.
Croydon council has delivered over 900 emergency food packages, with thousands more provided in partnership via local voluntary groups. The council has redistributed thousands of business donations, including hot food, ready meals and baby food.
As part of the council’s Ealing Together Covid-19 response, Greenford Hall has been temporarily transformed into a food distribution hub. Volunteers are helping upwards of 500 struggling families across the borough.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council
Hammersmith & Fulham Foodbank are delivering 1000 food parcels a week to support residents who are most in need.
Edible London – with the help of Haringey Council has been working with over 150 volunteers and the community to deliver organic fresh groceries, food and other basic supplies to thousands of local families in need during the coronavirus pandemic. Together they've delivered over 1,000 parcels each week and are sending out 600 hot meals each day.
The council is working with organisations across the voluntary and charity sector to deliver food to hundreds of vulnerable people and those in greatest need across the borough. During the Easter break, the weekly food parcels contained a Fairtrade chocolate egg as a treat alongside the essentials.
Tower Hamlets Council
Tower Hamlet has been working to help the boroughs most vulnerable residents during the coronavirus pandemic, ensuring anyone who needs urgent help while self-isolating. receives it. So far 11,170 self-isolating people have been supported. Food parcels delivered to residents with urgent needs from the emergency food hub in Bethnal Green. The hub was set up at the beginning of April, to deliver essential food parcels to people classed as extremely vulnerable and to help other at-risk residents who might have difficulty getting food. The hub is run by redeployed staff and volunteers recruited by the Volunteer Centre Tower Hamlets. Together they have packed food including 12,000 tins of soup and pints of milk, 3,000 eggs and over 10,000 staples including bread, cereal, pasta and rice. The council have also been supporting local foodbanks who are helping people who have lost their income.
Over the Easter holidays, the council formed a partnership with A Plate for London to provide free hot meals to families in need over the school holidays. In total, there was 12,000 free hot meals handed out across nine locations in the borough to families with children in need. The partnership has also provided employment to 12 chefs who have been affected by the closure of restaurants during the coronavirus lockdown.
Enfield Council and its partners have set up a dedicated domestic abuse hub and dedicated free-phone to help tackle increasing numbers of cases caused by the COVID-19 lockdown. Domestic abuse remains a hidden problem in our society which has a massive impact on those effected and their families. Domestic abuse is everyone’s responsibility and the council are working to promote awareness and understanding of the services available to ensure they can respond quickly and effectively to people’s needs.
Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster
Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster are working together on a joint central London campaign to help victims of domestic abuse find the support they need during isolation. The campaign aims to build on the national #YouAreNotAlone campaign, by signposting local support services available.
- The Angelou Support Service brings ten local organisations together to provide support, with backing from the council and police.
- A social media and poster campaign will point victims to free phone support and local services.
- The public can help make sure information gets to victims by sharing posts with the Home Office backed hashtag #YouAreNotAlone.
The council launched ‘Reach Out’ on 14th April, a new and comprehensive support service for any adult being abused, or fearful of being abused, and their children. Support services include counselling and practical advice on issues such as housing, finance and benefits. Children are also offered counselling, online support and telephone supportthrough Box Up Crime. The service also gives advice and support to perpetrators of domestic abuse to change their behaviour.
In a multi-cultural borough like Redbridge where 90 different languages are spoken, tackling domestic violence can be more challenging. To combat this, the communications team created a host of material signposting to key services for the most commonly spoken languages within the borough.
A dedicated mental health webpage has been set up for Enfield residents with tips on how to take care of your mind and body and signposting to mental health organisations. These messages have been amplified and shared via social media channels, in the digital newsletters and through a special leaflet handed out to vulnerable residents receiving food parcels from the Enfield Stands Together hub.
Southwark Council announced in January this year that it intended to open a young people’s mental health ‘hub’. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak the drop-in centre has now evolved into in online and phone-line support service aptly called 'The Nest" for the time being.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been distributed to over 140 social care providers that work in Brent.
Despite a nationwide shortage of PPE, the council has sourced 118 emergency PPE supply packs for providers such as care homes, plus 48,000 pieces of PPE equipment for staff alone. It set up a dedicated council PPE team, which has helped local care homes to source six weeks of stock before a nationwide ordering system began.
The council is receiving and distributing PPE to frontline healthcare workers at the Greenford depot hub. Following an appeal to local businesses, schools and individuals for help to provide vital protective equipment for carers due to the national shortage, the overwhelming response has allowed the council to be able to keep supplies going to key workers. The council procurement team have also been working on behalf of all the west London boroughs to source PPE from right across the world.
The Council's partnership with a local cleaning supplies business was fundamental in getting critical items such as PPE and cleaning supplies to all the borough’s schools when other supply options had been exhausted in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Their prompt action enabled Enfield schools to remain open to the children of key workers and to open to reception, year one and year six. Without their PPE Supply Packages, paid for by Enfield Council, thousands of children would not have been able to return to school in safe and clean environments.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council
Hammersmith & Fulham has stepped up to the PPE challenge by securing and shipping more than 1,000,000 items to frontline workers and those they are serving. The borough's social workers, home help visitors, parks and street wardens and refuse crews, as well as staff in privately run care homes, have protected both themselves and the residents due to this unprecedented buy-and-supply operation.
The council also supported two former Hammersmith & Fulham school pupils, in producing free PPE visors to frontline NHS staff through procurement and health and safety regulations and linked them through to directors at Imperial College NHS Trust. They have produced 20,000 face shields, with 5,800 going to Hammersmith & Fulham care workers and staff in the borough’s private care homes, while 12,000 face shields have already been given to Charing Cross Hospital.
Kingston Council has provided 24,700 masks, 40,700 aprons and 28,200 gloves to the community and key workers.
Tower Hamlets Council
The council has delivered more than 263,000 items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline staff such as care workers and council staff, external service providers and individuals with caring responsibilities to safeguard residents and maintain essential services.
Boroughs secure PPE boost to protect vulnerable Londoners
London boroughs have agreed a new pan-London partnership to secure emergency supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for care homes and other crucial local services on the Covid-19 frontline.