Many of our schools and charity partners are working tirelessly during this period to continue to deliver their services and support vulnerable members of the community. Whilst the government guidelines to self-isolate and work from home may limit what you can do, there are still plenty of ways we can support our local community.
We know many businesses need help, from distributing surplus food to connecting them with nearby residents as they re-purpose their business model. We have already been able to help hotels and venues as well as office occupiers.
The Community Team will be in regular communication with our local charities, community groups and schools over the coming weeks to identify opportunities for volunteers to provide remote support. This article will be regularly updated with the latest volunteering opportunities.
COVID Kindness in Marble Arch
COVID-19 is undoubtedly having severe implications on our businesses and charity partners alike, however the following examples of care and generosity highlight the strength of the Marble Arch community:
- With the help of 8 local schools and one nursery the Marble Arch Community Programme has helped the Hilton London Metropole create a rainbow poster display full of inspirational messages for the 200 NHS workers staying in their hotel. The ‘Wall of Hope’ will be updated on an ongoing basis.
- The Victory Services Club opened up 60 of their 100 bedrooms to support essential workers in April.
- Hilton London Metropole have lent one of their fridges to St Mary’s Hospital. The fridge will hold a hundred smoothies a week which Innocent are kindly donating to keep front line NHS staff refreshed. A huge thank you to First Mile for lending one of their recycling vans and a driver to transport the fridge.
- Stylus Media have re-purposed their office milk supply, continuing to support a local business by donating their usual order of 20L per week to the 11 senior residents of Crawford Place Alms House. The first delivery of many was made on Wednesday 1 April.
- Before having to temporarily close their doors the Montcalm Hotels Group provided NHS staff free accommodation in their Hyde Park International Hotel.
- Marble Arch food hall, Green Valley have donated fresh meals in March and April to essential NHS staff at St Mary’s Hospital.
- Hilton London Metropole donated 100 chocolate Easter eggs to the students of King Solomon Academy on Thursday 9 April. King Solomon Academy is one of the designated schools in Westminster staying open to support the children of essential workers.
- The Grosvenor Victoria Casino donated over £3,500 worth of their restaurant produce to local charity the Westminster Society on 24 March.
- Hilton London Metropole donated over 30 boxes of food to North Paddington Food bank and 1000 eggs to the families of the Westminster Society on the week commencing 23 March . You can see a video of Chef Russell encouraging other hotels to get behind this cause and donate extra produce during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Telephone Discussion Groups:
- Marble Arch companies, Hilton London Metropole , Stylus Media and HBL Bank have collectively hosted 6 ‘Telephone Discussion Groups’ since the start of April . These ongoing sessions are run for elderly members of the community, in partnership with local charity Neighbourcare. Discussion topics have included future holiday destinations, favorite areas in London and top tips for self isolating.
- The Marble Arch BID has also been supporting furloughed colleagues to get involved with the the community programme from a personal capacity- two such volunteers hosted our first discussion session on Thursday 2 April.
- Four Stylus Media colleagues received 12 CV’s on Monday 27 April from local school King Solomon Academy. The team of four supported Year 10 students who missed out on their work experience placements due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Many of the homeless services and night shelters in the local area have now had to close their doors to help reduce the spread of the virus, but are working hard to source single beds in hotels and B&B’s which will help to keep their service users safe. For the latest information on how to support the local homeless community and the services available please see the Paddington Partnership website.
Support the community
IT Support: We are looking for volunteers who can provide IT support either by phone or via Zoom to small groups of older people, to help give them the confidence to use tools such as Skype, Facebook and What’s App and stay connected.
Offer careers advice: We are working with schools to identify ways that we can still offer young people valuable career advice and experience. Could you provide written feedback on CVs and covering letters and help students ‘sell’ themselves to potential future employers? Would you be able to run virtual mock interviews, giving students and job seekers insight into recruitment tools and what employers are looking for?
Hold virtual careers talks, workshops and assemblies: Keeping students engaged in meaningful activity is a priority for teachers. Could you dial in and host a virtual assembly, seminar or workshop – talking to pupils about your career path, hobby or interest e.g. a country you have visited or a language you speak?
Host a telephone discussion group: We are looking for colleagues who like to chat and would be willing to host a discussion group for the housebound – particularly those who are elderly and living on their own. Approximately 4-5 people would dial into the call, which would be focused on a topic of your choice.
Virtual quizzes: Our latest virtual volunteering opportunity is to launch quizzes, delivered via Zoom, to provide older people who are particularly isolated at this time, with an hour of lighthearted entertainment. Volunteer quiz masters are needed to write rounds of questions and deliver the quizzes, keeping everyone engaged and entertained.
Prepare food parcels: If you live in the Marble Arch area, have access to a car and would be willing to collect donations for the North Paddington Foodbank or drop off food parcels, please get in touch. The North Paddington Foodbank is particularly stretched at the present time as it continues to support those experiencing food poverty. We are also hearing from local schools concerned about children who would normally receive free school meals.
As local charities and schools remain open and try to continue to deliver their services, many are requesting support in the form of donations; both financial and for specific items. If you can help with any of the requests below, please contact Guy. We may be able to find local volunteers who could pick items up where required and drop them at charity partners.
- Tin foil containers: A local homeless shelter is requesting tinfoil takeaway containers which can be used to serve food to its service users who are self-isolating.
- Mobile phones: Several local charities, particularly those that care for the homeless, are currently seeking donations of mobile phones. These would enable them to continue to communicate with their service users, monitor wellbeing and inform them of key information at this time
- Financial donations: Specific requests have been received from the Imperial Health Charity, West London Mission and North Paddington Foodbank, who are all seeking funds to enable them to continue their vital work. The Imperial Health Charity has set up a special relief fund to support the well-being of staff working at the five Imperial College hospitals, including St Mary’s in Paddington during the pandemic, and to support the needs of vulnerable patients. West London Mission have seen their running costs increase by £20,000 per week, as they seek to provide single accommodation, increased medical provision and hygiene facilities. Donations can be made here.
- Accommodation: Single bed accommodation is still being sought by homelessness charities, so they can help to keep clients safe.
- Supplies for St Mary’s: Many of you understandably want to channel supplies direct to St Mary’s and other surrounding hospitals. The best starting point is to email details of your offer to a new appeals inbox that has been set up. A relevant colleague will then be in touch to follow up on your donation.
If you would like to get involved, please contact Guy