How to support the Community Programme during COVID-19

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.

Please contact Guy if your business is able to support with any of the following volunteering opportunities:

Share your skills: Remote working is something we are all adjusting to, but for charities and schools this is uncharted territory. Could you run a webinar or provide telephone support to charity employees to assist them with this transition? A specific request has been received for training in using Microsoft Teams, but sharing advice on how to work effectively from home, run successful conference calls and keep colleagues motivated would all be valued.

Offer careers advice: Lots of young people will not be able to complete their scheduled work experience over the coming weeks. We are working with schools to identify ways that we can still offer young people valuable careers advice and experience. Could you provide written feedback on CV’s and covering letters; helping 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 workshops and assemblies: Keeping those children who are still in school engaged in meaningful activity is a priority for teachers. Could you dial in and host a virtual assembly or workshop – talking to pupils about your job, hobby or interest e.g. a country you have visited or a language you speak? Could you read a story to young children from an author you loved as a child, or even deliver a craft activity Blue Peter style? We’re thinking outside the box now for how we can make this time as positive and productive as possible – your suggestions and ideas are very welcome.

Host a telephone support 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. This could be linked to the world of work e.g. how to keep safe online, or a hobby or interest you might like to share e.g. cooking, poetry or gardening.

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 for service users who are self-isolating, 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. Items for food parcels would be gratefully received to aid these families.

If you have access to a car and could help deliver parcels to the Foodbank and local schools, please get in touch.

Homelessness update:  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 with donations: 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.

  • School supplies: Schools that are still open for the children of key workers have requested donations to help with delivering activities during this time. These include stationery supplies (pens, pencils, notebooks and art resources), books for children who are self-isolating and don’t have access to many at home, board games and puzzles. Seeds and pots could also be used, to help children learn about and appreciate nature, despite being confined.
  • 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.
  • Toiletries: Charities supporting the homeless community are requesting donations of toileties (soap, shampoo, sanitary wear, toothpaste and toothbrushes) to support those self isolating in hotels and hostels at this time.
  • 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 and North Paddington Foodbank, who are both 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. The Passage is running a fundraising campaign to help ensure it can continue to deliver its service over the coming months.
  • Accommodation: Single bed accommodation is still being sought by homelessness charities, so they can help to keep clients safe.

COVID Kindness in Marble Arch 

The COVID-19 Virus 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. During the past week:

How to support the Community Programme during COVID-19
How to support the Community Programme during COVID-19
How to support the Community Programme during COVID-19

Should you be able to support with any the above or have any other ideas for how could help, please do get in touch with Guy

If you are a local resident looking to help at this time, the best first point of contact is Westminster’s dedicated COVID-19 volunteering page. You can find more information here.

Last updated 27 March 2020.