COVID-19 has dramatically changed the country’s landscape since first going into a national lockdown in March continuing into June. Though certain restrictions have eased, the repercussions of a lengthy lockdown have impacted many aspects of our everyday lives, especially for those who struggled pre-lockdown.
A domino effect has occurred with such extreme measures being put into place, impacting livelihoods with businesses ceasing operations and jobs being lost, placing increased pressure on food banks. All in all, causing significant emotional distress.
Despite these challenging circumstances, an outpouring of community support has flooded the Woodberry Down estate.
Locals and the Redmond Community Centre team, a social hub in the heart of Woodberry Down run by Manor House Development Trust, knew it was inconceivable to let households who were struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic go without food necessities. And so, the Skyline Emergency Aid Hub was established, initially for the Woodberry Down estate, but as referrals kept multiplying. It soon became the central Hackney Emergency Food Hub.
Fronted by dedicated volunteers and the team from the Redmond Centre. Along with other local charities, organisations, and the London Borough of Hackney, strong collaborations have ensured the services have reached those in most need of support. While the initiative highlights the plight of those struggling under the weight of uncertainty, it also highlights the community spirit of areas across Hackney.
Services began in March at The Redmond Community Centre, but as referrals for food bags and hot meals started to rise; A larger premise was needed to keep up with the growing demand. A partnership between Berkeley Homes and the Redmond Community Centre team was created by moving the service to a larger unit (a vacant restaurant).
“Without help from the food deliveries, I would be struggling. I did break down and thought: ‘how am I going to cope?’. So, receiving meals is one less thing to worry about. The kids enjoy the meals. I’m so happy to receive it” – Chris, a resident who has been receiving hot meals since March.
As lockdown eases, new businesses are facing the pandemic head-on. The emergency food hub is now occupied by a new local restaurant, which leads the service returning to its’ roots, moving back to the Redmond Community Centre, operating from the Centre’s newly refurbished kitchen.
Since March, an unprecedented number of meals have been delivered across Woodberry Down and Hackney, highlighting the need for such services. , The backbone of the emergency food hub is the front-line workers and volunteers, and without their time and dedication, none of this would have been made possible.
- 13, 168 meals were delivered across Hackney. (Including 10,854 packed lunches supplied by Berkeley Homes and 2,764 hot meals)
- 1,146 grocery bags delivered to Woodberry Down and Hackney residents
- On average, across 6 months, 125 food parcels per weekday to local households
Sharing her experience with the Hackney Emergency Food Hub – Finn, who has been acting as the Hackney Emergency Hub Coordinator –
“Over the last 7 months Skyline has supported people shielding, families and people who have been economically affected by Covid-19. One of the very positive aspects that had come out of this project is the amazing volunteers that have helped, we couldn’t have done this without them. It is lovely to see volunteers making connections with their local community and each other.”
While uncertainty remains for the foreseeable future, one thing is certain; The community spirit has not only been undamped but has been ignited. Compassion has prevailed and has led to one of the most significant community initiatives that the borough has seen.
While Covid-19 has presented many challenges, a changing attitude toward community development has seen a shift for the better. Woodberry Down have shown that there are solutions to meet these challenges, so while we yearn for the days before Covid-19, may this new viewpoint and support for community services remain to strive for an even better future.
To follow the Centre’s COVID-19 journey, head to the Redmond Community Centre’s website.