Islington’s community works together in a crisis
One year ago today, Islington along with the rest of the country, went into its first coronavirus lockdown.
Our amazing north London community and voluntary groups sprung into action providing much needed support for those in need and a real lifeline to many. Here are just a few of the amazing acts of kindness.
Eve at only 10 years old has helped her mum to bake cakes for every neighbour in their building, and friends who live nearby. They have also offered elderly residents help to collect food from the shops.
Forum+ has been supporting the LGBTQ+ community through lockdown, especially people who feel isolated, by making wellbeing calls and putting on a range of social events. Volunteer Daniel, said: “Small actions can have a great impact in people’s lives.”
The Octopus network of 14 community centres has provided food, activities, and support in new ways during lockdown. Zumba classes went online, telephone services offering a friendly chat were offered, and wellbeing checks for residents put in place. Community centres distributed around 1,500 food parcels weekly, 36,000 meals and dished up over 57,000 hot meals.
Elizabeth House volunteers
Arsenal in the Community has been working together with Islington Council for about five years. Together with HIS Church Charity, they delivered over half a million meals to those most vulnerable in our local community. Club staff also clocked up 6,820 miles voluntarily driving NHS staff to work, and 250 laptops have been donated to tackle digital poverty in Islington. They supported school children with more than 400 free books for pupils, weekly exercise sessions with Arsenal online, and home learning materials to support education at home. The Emirates Stadium housed Islington Council’s food distribution centre during June and August, while the Arsenal in the Community Hub was used for residents to access the flu jab during October and November.
Sunnyside Community Gardens spread some cheer with its #GardenInYourFlat project, delivering plants for free to residents on the Elthorne Estate.
Finsbury Park Mosque partnered with Human Appeal and Wishes Catering to hand out 100 meals to NHS workers at the Whittington Hospital to say thank you for their hard work and the sacrifices they have made to protect us all.
Volunteers from Finsbury Park Mosque delivering meals to NHS staff
Every week, Copenhagen Food Bank volunteers have collected donations and surplus food from local businesses, small voluntary groups and individuals to provide food parcels for those who have been hit hardest during the pandemic.
Gene therapy company, MeiraGTx contacted the council offering gloves, masks and disposable lab coats to local care homes out of concern for staff.
Local community sewing groups banded together last spring to make more than 500 face masks for vulnerable residents. One of the seamstresses, Dehab Asfaha, told us: “It might not seem like a big deal, but sometimes small things can make a big difference. I made over 180 masks from the materials donated to us. I’m still making face coverings and distributing them in the Finsbury Park community.”
In Archway, Engin Mehmet and Hak Huseyin who run Absolute Print made and donated face shields to NHS and frontline staff.
The Islington Giving Crisis Fund was set up to quickly allocate every penny donated to around 30 trusted local organisations so that they can help our communities through the pandemic. Your support has meant Help on Your Doorstep have been able to call hundreds of vulnerable and isolated residents to check in with them and see what support they need, the Hive Food Bank at St Mary’s Church has provided food for four times the number of households they usually support, the council’s Resident Support Scheme has helped hundreds more households in financial hardship because of coronavirus – with food, paying utility bills and other essentials.
The We are Islington helpline was set up by Islington Council, voluntary sector and mutual aid groups to provide support to residents during the pandemic. Callers are offered help getting food or medicine, supported in applying for financial aid, or a friendly chat if they are isolated. If you could benefit from this kind of assistance then get in touch on 020 7527 8222. Lines are open 9am-5pm daily.
To everyone who has done their bit over the last year, thank you.
Sadly, many of us in Islington have experienced the loss of friends, family and colleagues during the coronavirus crisis. Our hearts go out to you all. To remember them, Islington Council has launched a Book of Condolence, an online space for you to celebrate their lives with a dedication or message of remembrance.
Marie Curie has launched a National Day of Reflection on 23 March to allow people to reflect on our collective loss, support those who’ve been bereaved, and hope for a brighter future.
You can get involved by joining their minute of silence at 12pm, or by shining a light at 8pm.
We are Islington.
Find out more about the support on offer.