One Big Family
Covid-19 - One Big Family Emergency Response - Part 1
As the reality of the Covid-19 Pandemic began to hit the UK, lockdown was looming and the supermarket shelves started to empty.... everyone was anxious and the next few weeks were looking bleak.
The demand for food parcels was rapidly increasing - social workers with clients who were "shielding" (and no chance of a supermarket delivery), hospital staff with patients being discharged to empty cupboards, families where the breadwinner had suddenly been laid off, probation officers with newly released clients with no money/food, plus many more were coming to us daily for help... our volunteers donned their masks and "got stuck in" - From helping to make food parcels, sourcing food, delivering, fund raising, sorting through donations, day in day out they showed up and were willing to help others. At times our supplies ran dangerously low - we were unable to "bulk buy" but , always at just the right time, a solution appeared! Hundreds of food parcels were delivered during the initial 12 weeks...
The willingness of ALL local charities/community groups to work together, share stock etc was incredible - Medway really is a special place!
Requests were also coming thick and fast from other agencies for home starter packs (for people being put into Temporary Accommodation or moved) clothing, furniture - all of which wasn't easy to source in the middle of a pandemic, but somehow, volunteers "begged, stole and borrowed " to ensure each request was met.!!
AND the Soup Kitchen continued EVERY week - we went to volunteers and asked them if they were willing to continue, their safety had to be our priority, and unequivocally they said YES!!
After hurriedly taking advise on the safest way to proceed, and with strict social distancing measures in place, the "collect and go " service began...the numbers surged but our cooks made sure no-one left hungry! Week in week out, volunteers showed up and ensured a safe, friendly environment (in an otherwise unfamilar world) for everyone who attended.
The demand has now lessened, but still we carry on ...
So, this is to say THANK YOU to EVERY member of the One Big Family team - you rose to the challenge of helping others during an incredibly difficult time and DELIVERED (and continue to do so.)
We say this with love and gratitude
Liz & Darren
Covid-19 Emergency Response Part 2
Toward the end of March, the Government announced that Homeless Shelters with shared sleeping spaces must close due to the Covid-19 pandemic - we were coming to the end of our Winter Refuge (which had provided nearly 1000 beds to Rough Sleepers in Medway) but still had homeless people with nowhere to go..
Medway Council came up with a plan to partly take over a local hotel in which to provide emergency accommodation for Rough Sleepers... a small team from One Big Family offered to provide 24/7 on site support, to encourage people to stay indoors (as per government guidelines) - believe me it can be very challenging trying to keep people indoors, who are not used to having an "indoors" therefore...
We enlisted the help of Caring Hands and the Salvation Army to provide lunch/dinner Mon-Fri and our volunteers cooked on the weekends. Because of YOUR donations we were also able to provide underwear/clothing/toiletries/books/puzzles/craft items/mobile phones for people.
For 14 weeks, putting themselves "on the frontline" amidst the pandemic, our small team were WITH people in the Emergency Accomodation - and the results have been incredible - in some areas of the country, up to 35% of people left the hotels because of lack of support/food provision, no-one left our hotel for that reason...
Due to the strength of the ongoing partnership working between many agencies in Medway, we were able to access urgent assistance with issues (mental health/substance misuse etc) with other agencies endeavouring to make it as uncomplicated as possible for our volunteers - telephone interviews/video calls, often happening "out of hours" were very evident (and appreciated)!! Plus (again, with vital multi-agency cooperation) we provided housing support - most importantly, the VAST majority of people have now been successfully moved to more permanent accommodation. 💙💙
To everyone who supported us & Medway Council with this project THANK YOU - Team Work really is the ONLY way to provide solutions.
A big thanks also to the incredible owner & staff at the hotel
Our gratitude as always, goes to our wider group of volunteers who provided constant "background" support and encouragement throughout. 💙💙 OBF
And to that "small team" of One Big Family volunteers - you know who you are - you went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure others were kept safe during an incredibly difficult time...
Medway Covid-19 Response - please know, everything we are currently doing is being done as responsibly as possible.
On 26th March, adhering to Government guidelines we closed the door of the Homeless Emergency Winter Refuge in Chatham - Medway Council rapidly put a plan in place, and all guests were then accomodated in a local hotel... a small team of our volunteers are now providing daily support to the hotel residents - this includes basic health checks, helping them to continue to access other services, benefits assistance, ongoing housing support, providing them with essential items and being a "familiar face" during these uncertain times.... Caring Hands, the Salvation Army and our volunteers are providing regular meals, with other agencies planning to offer more support in the coming weeks. It's been an AMAZING multi-agency effort !
The demand for food parcels has been phenomenal - the majority are requested by Keyworkers /supported housing providers to assist people who are isolating or in financial crisis - our volunteers have travelled the length and breadth of Medway to deliver food to those in need.
The weekly Soup Kitchen continues on a Sunday at 6.30pm in Chatham - it is a "collect and go" service only, with strict social distancing measures in place.
Our stock levels are severely depleted - so in upcoming posts we will be asking for support - we understand that this is an incredibly difficult time, so would be grateful for any help you can give.
In the meantime, please stay safe