The community has responded quickly with organisations, businesses and volunteers dedicating time, effort and resources to support the most vulnerable through this extremely challenging period. The Queen’s Park Community Council (QPCC) has been co-ordinating the effort; working closely with key partners and support agencies and managing volunteers on the ground.
At the beginning of April QPCC set up a hotline to support Queen’s Park residents impacted by the Covid-19 epidemic with a particular focus on those isolated without internet access. The service has been promoted by leaflet, word of mouth networks and online. In addition to direct calls there have been multiple referrals from concerned neighbours and community groups. The hotline is run by QPCC staff seven days per week and serves as a first point of contact for residents in need of help. Staff listen and provide emotional support, refer cases to partners and agencies where appropriate, and delegate tasks to a local volunteer team on the ground.
To date the hotline has supported 69 cases, 51 of which are receiving ongoing support.
- 44% of cases involve residents aged 60 or over
- 26% of cases involve residents on the Shielded list at high risk from Covid-19
- 22% of cases involve families
- 10% of cases involve animals
Each call is logged and case managed by staff who check in regularly and provide support as required.
Referrals and support
- 49 cases have been supported by local volunteers with shopping trips, prescription pickups, gas/electricity top ups, troubleshooting, running errands and emotional support
- 36 cases have been referred to North Paddington Food Bank for emergency and ongoing weekly food packages
- 8 families have been referred to Avenues cooked lunch delivery service (Mon to Fri)
- 18 older/ shielded residents have been referred into QPG Hub/ Ida’s restaurant cooked lunch delivery service (Mon, Weds, Fridays and weekends)
- 15 cases have been referred to Westminster CAB for advice on benefits, debt, finance and housing
- 2 cases have been referred to adult social services
- 1 case has been referred to children’s social services
- 1 case has been referred to the community mental health team
- 2 cases have been referred to the Paddington Emergency Response Partnership which brings together a number of local agencies to support the most complex cases and flag them to statutory support services.
- 1 resident has been admitted to hospital and another has sadly passed away
Geographic spread of cases across Queen’s Park
It is highly likely the current cases represent a just a small fraction of those in need across Queen’s Park. Door-knocking and outreach could be a potential way to access and help more people moving forwards.
Queen’s Park is fortunate to have a range of excellent community based organisations, businesses and active volunteers operating on the ground who have responded quickly to the crisis by adapting their services and working hard to support those most in need.
North Paddington Food Bank
The North Paddington Food Bank has expanded to meet a massive increase in demand during the lockdown providing a vital lifeline to isolated residents and low income households. It is currently delivering 636 food parcels to 1130 people each week – an increase of five times its pre-Covid service.
Deliveries in W10 and W9 postcodes account for over 40% of the Foodbank’s total service highlighting a very high level of need in Queen’s Park. The Foodbank opened a Queen’s Park Satellite Hub on the 30th April at the Avenues Youth Project in response to demand. QPCC is working with foodbank staff and volunteers, referring those in need into the service, and helping ensure weekly food deliveries are timed appropriately and tailored as much as possible to ensure people don’t go hungry and food is not wasted.
Avenues Youth Project
The Avenues Youth Project launched a hot meal delivery service on the 23rd March to support vulnerable local children and families during the lockdown. Starting with its own membership base, then expanding to accept referrals, the project is now delivering 100 meals a day to over 50 households every Monday to Friday. The project is funded by QPCC, alongside donations and an impressive volunteer effort involving chefs, administrators and delivery drivers. QPCC staff have been working closely with the Avenues team referring cases into the service and providing additional support to families through the Hotline. The Avenues is planning to re-open at the beginning of June when the food project will have run for 10 weeks saving 50 low income families an average of £100 per week and involving over 45 local volunteers.
QPG Community and Sports Hub
The QPG Hub team have been operating seven days a week and working incredibly hard throughout the lockdown to support those in need across Queen’s Park. The Hub has continued to deliver free Magic breakfast and food care packages to the Wilberforce School Families that it was supporting prior to the crisis. It has also launched a cooked food service in partnership with Ida’s Restaurant and the Felix Project which is currently delivering 87 meals three times a week to older isolated residents and its core families. On 2nd May the Hub expanded to offer a weekend service delivering Saturday brunch and Sunday roasts to 42 of its highest risk group. Every Thursday the hub delivers Fish and Chips donated by the Seashell restaurant in Lisson Grove which has become a lockdown favourite. QPCC has referred 18 older isolated residents onto the hot meal service and 45 for fish and chips with very positive feedback. The QPG Hub team are have provided a responsive service on the ground supporting the Hotline with a range of tasks; from shopping trips, prescription pick-ups, electricity/gas and phone top-ups, cat food drop-offs, a hearing aid repair and much more. They are also picking up and referring cases into the Hotline and providing a valuable picture of the situation on the ground.
QPCC Volunteer Team
QPCC is managing a team of seven local volunteers who provide a friendly support service to those in need. The team have been carefully trained to protect themselves and the residents they are supporting and provided with PPE, high-vis vests, ID badges and volunteer cards. They follow a strict safeguarding protocol to ensure any concerns are flagged to QPCC staff and appropriate agencies. Despite the challenges of supporting lonely and anxious people whilst maintaining strict social distancing boundaries, the team have been doing a fantastic job of reducing isolation and providing support from a safe distance. They have been helping with a wide range of tasks including shopping and prescription pick-ups, as well as going the extra mile to help a low-income family in isolation celebrate a 9 year olds birthday.
A couple of quotes below highlight the difference the team are making:
‘Would like to say a big thanks for arranging shopping and hot meals to my mother Ms Murphy, who is a disabled pensioner, extremely vulnerable; and because I’m unwell, has no one else to help her. this is a huge lifeline and I’m extremely grateful for all you’ve done. I don’t know what we would have done without this.’
Mandy Murphy, Kilravock Street
‘I would like to thank you about the huge help and support you are providing me with as a single mother of three young children with no friends or family around me in this difficult time you are making a big difference to us by collecting prescriptions, getting food and essentials for us. People who are answering the phone are very kind and helpful, big thank you to everyone. I appreciate your kindness and help’
As the government eases lockdown restrictions QPCC must consider the best way to gradually withdraw support from the cohort it has been helping throughout the crisis. QPCC is co-ordinating with key partners to ensure those in need continue to receive support over the coming months and beyond. The Foodbank has confirmed it will continue to support all the referrals QPCC has made going forwards. Weekly food parcels will be a vital lifeline to low income households and isolated residents in the difficult months ahead. QPG Hub is planning to continue its current food delivery service to high risk, shielded and older residents until government advice to stay at home is reviewed at the end of June. The Avenues hot food service for families will run to the end of May.
The collaboration and community spirit displayed by volunteers, organisations and agencies at a very local level throughout the past two months has been incredible and inspiring. Queen’s Park is extremely fortunate to have such a rich and active community support network to call on in times of need. In the event of a second wave of Covid-19 cases in the autumn the partnerships and connections built up will be vital in supporting the growing cohort of vulnerable residents that have been identified.