Doing the weekly shop, or putting in your regular online delivery order, was something most of us took for granted until the COVID-19 crisis hit. Since the social distancing ‘lockdown’, something as basic as going shopping, or popping to the chemist to pick up a prescription, has become increasingly difficult to navigate for vulnerable and elderly people, as well as those who have found themselves in financial difficulty due to a reduced income.
Thankfully, dozens of community support initiatives have quickly sprung into action to support these groups, and many of our students and staff have been getting involved to help get food and assistance out to where it’s most needed.
Warwick Conferences catering team has been making excellent use of its current spare fridge and freezer space, by providing storage for a large donation of fresh food destined for the Coventry Emergency Food Network.
This partnership with Coventry City Council has enabled the network to accept a donation of wholesale food worth thousands of pounds which would have otherwise gone to waste.
The Coventry Emergency Food Network was set up in response to the COVID-19 crisis, and consists of a central hub, along with 10 emergency local food hubs located around the city which are distributing the food in partnership with Coventry Foodbank, the Trussell Trust and Feeding Coventry.
Coventry’s Moat House Community Trust co-ordinated the delivery of the wholesale food to our fridges and freezers to be safely stored, ready for distribution via the Food Hubs to vulnerable people across the city.
Three Warwick colleagues are volunteering at Canley Food Hub, one of the 10 emergency local food hubs currently located around the city. Canley Community Centre is operating as a local point for food deliveries to be co-ordinated to ensure people staying in their homes can access food and supplies.
Matt Evans (International Partnerships Officer, International Strategy and Relations) said:
“Seeing different organisations and members of the local community coming together to support those in need is both inspiring and humbling. It serves as a reminder of the importance of community spirit and coming together in difficult times.”
“Being able to volunteer during work time has enabled me to do my bit during this crisis.”
Wendy Herron (Master’s Programme Receptionist, WBS) explained:
“I am volunteering for the Canley Food Hub and we did our first food delivery on Friday 1 May, to 60 households in the area. Fareshare delivered the food, which is excess supermarket stock, and I helped to sort and pack it into 60 cool bags and 60 bags. We then loaded up four vehicles and the fire service and volunteers did the deliveries. Very tiring but rewarding work!”
Maddi Monclus (Facilities Assistant, WBS) shared her thoughts:
“Using your skills to help the community has a double benefit. You will help so many people affected by the difficult Covid-19 crisis, but it will also help you. It has been proven that helping is good for mind and body, as it counteracts anxiety, stress and depression.
“I am enjoying supporting the Canley Food Hub very much, helping vulnerable people and gaining new experiences".
Matt, Wendy and Maddi all stepped forward via our online volunteering opportunities hub for University staff.
Our Security team is working around the clock to support the students and staff who are still on campus. As well as supporting our staff and students, they’re also helping out the wider community. Team members Shaz Maqsood and Glyn Smith have been coordinating a collection of food and supplies to be donated to Age UK Coventry and Warwickshire, who are distributing the goods to vulnerable older people in the local area.
Tom Overy (Assistant Operations Manager, Campus Security) said:
“So far, it’s been mainly Security staff donating but we would like as many people on campus to get involved as possible. Please bring your donations to the Security Hub, where you can drop things off safely, while observing social distancing.”
The team is looking for donations of dried and long-life goods.
As well as supporting Age UK, the Security team is using some of the donations to make up emergency food parcels for students on campus who are self-isolating or in hardship.
Wellbeing Support Service colleagues Ellie Breen and Linda Sherwin have embarked on a virtual walk of the length of the UK, to support the Trussell Trust’s Walk4Hunger campaign. Ellie and Linda are part of a team of 12, including an NHS doctor, nurse and physiotherapist, a teacher and a social worker, who have each been using their daily exercise allowance to walk 5km a day for 30 days to rack up a collective total of 1,788km – that’s 1111 miles. This equates to the length of the UK from south west to north east.
They've already passed their original target of £1,500, and are still going, now marching towards a new target of £2,500.
If you’d like to donate, please visit their JustGiving page.
For more information about their journey, watch their short video.
Thanks to a University porter who kindly stepped forward to become a ‘man with a van’, we’ve been able to help the Coventry Foodbank reach those who are unable to get there in person. The deliveries are made using one of our electric vehicles to drop off supplies on behalf of the foodbank.
Reporting to the Binley Distribution Centre each day, Monday to Friday, our volunteer – who wished to remain anonymous – is providing a vital lifeline by collecting food parcels and delivering them to home addresses, primarily in the CV4 and CV5 areas of the city.
“At times such as this, it is more important than ever for us to work together with our regional neighbours and partners as a single community.”
– Professor Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor & President