Adapting to support our neighbourhood

Natalie Bell with seniors at a community day

We are supporting one thousand and forty residents of Waterloo and North Southwark weekly. These include local families, key workers, individuals who are isolating, vulnerable adults and anyone that needs a bit of much needed TLC.

Natalie Bell, our Head of Youth and Community Programmes recently explained how the work of her team has adapted during this crisis to Public Sector Executive. Read an extract from the article.

“I am doing what I can with a team of staff and volunteers’ day to day and it still does not feel like enough in the grand scheme of things. As the head of my team, I had to think creatively and carefully about what we could and could not do in this crisis. We teamed up with our funders and the local hub school and began by working with our 320 registered participants. I think people respond best to a familiar face or voice and in times of crisis they are more able to ask for what they need.

Volunteers packing up food and supplies to deliver to local residents in need

“We have changed our way of working overnight to ensure our community can access help and support in new ways, over the phone, email, Zoom and post. We’ve realise that to be inclusive you have to see every situation with a wide angled lens. People who we thought would be ok are not ok. They have lost jobs, careers, income, health, loved ones and support mechanisms in a sudden, chaotic, random way. Some of my team including myself are in a privileged position to help practically if we are local, healthy, have no isolation issues and can still function financially.

“Our team members with commutes and dependents are running the remote activities and making hundreds of check-in phone calls, signposting to partners, services and resources. Our strength is the fact we are locally based with a high level of independence, huge range of skills, mixed resources and trusted relationships with both individuals and organisations. We are helping families and the vulnerable with holistic support ranging from providing printing services to food parcels to shopping and providing resources and activities to children living in temporary accommodation or crowded flats. We are keeping connectivity and communication going.

Volunteers with food and supplies

“We are witnessing the community pulling together, looking after each other and trying harder to be in synch with each other. Volunteers from all backgrounds are coming forwards and wanting to contribute, which has been heartwarming. Team members supporting each other both emotionally and practically has strengthened us and kept us going.

“Our residents cheering for their neighbours as they go out to work in local hospitals brings people together. Rifts are being healed and we feel more able to prioritise what’s really important. I think Coin Street’s Youth and Community Programmes team will come out more accessible, flexible, wiser and resilient at the end of this."

Read the full article here.