A west Newcastle community’s inspirational response to the Covid-19 crisis has won financial backing from a regional employer.
A team of volunteers has been compiling and delivering weekly food parcels to people in and around Throckley who are elderly, isolated, ill or vulnerable to ensure that nobody is being left without help while the lockdown restrictions are in place.
Based around Throckley Community Hall, the project has involved volunteers from the Hall working with local police officers and staff from Play Newcastle to prepare and deliver up to 70 food parcels every week, with PPE being worn by the team during their rounds to minimise any chance of spreading the virus.
The volunteers are also spending extra time with each parcel recipient to ensure they’re safe and well, can ask for help with any particular issues that they’re facing and get the chance for a chat with someone who might be their only visitor of the day.
The project has been awarded a £1,500 grant from the Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund to assist with meeting its running costs and organisers are now looking for further funding to help keep it going.
Around 90 per cent of recipients live in Throckley itself, but deliveries are also being made to people in need living in West Denton, Blakelaw and Benwell.
Michelle Mitchell, office manager at Throckley Community Hall, says: “We kept it local to begin with and focused on older and vulnerable people who we already knew through our regular activities at the hall, but as the weeks have passed by, news of what we’ve been doing has spread around the wider area and we’ve had more and more people coming forward from other nearby communities.
“People from different parts of our community have come together to make this project happen, from buying in the supplies and making up the food parcels to getting out and about with the deliveries, and it’s been a fantastic success.
“While the food parcels are important in themselves, the contact that we’re having with local people who might otherwise not see anyone else has been just as valuable, both in terms of seeing whether they need any extra help with anything and also to give them that bit of human contact that they might not otherwise get.
“The Banks Community Fund grant has made a real difference to the numbers of people that we’ve been able to reach and we’re aiming to continue running the project as long as the community need remains.”
Throckley Community Hall is the latest group to be provided with emergency financial support from the Banks Group, which has also been allocating community funding from its wind farms and surface mines across the north of England and Scotland to assist with similar emergency projects.
Over the last two months, grants worth a total of over £65,000 have been approved and awarded by the family-owned firm to 39 community projects which are tackling the problems being caused in their respective areas by the pandemic.
Jeannie Raine, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Our funds are designed to bring direct, long-term benefits to local communities, and in this unprecedented time of need, we felt it only right to step up to support our local communities where it’s most needed.
“The commitment and generosity that the Thockley volunteers have shown is inspirational and they’re making a real difference to the lives of dozens of local people.”