'Keep helping your neighbour' appeal by Tower Hamlets mayor

Volunteer at St Hilda’s food bank distribution from Sonali Gardens day care centre.

Volunteer at St Hilda’s food bank distribution from Sonali Gardens day care centre. - Credit: Rehan Jamil

An appeal for people to help their vulnerable neighbours has been made on the first anniversary of the Covid-19 lockdown. 

This comes from voluntary organisations and Tower Hamlets Council in a year in which community hubs have provided 20,000 hot meals. 

Volunteers who have helped distribute food in the past 12 months

Volunteers who have helped distribute food in the past 12 months - Credit: THH

The hubs have also distributed 4,000 food parcels, undertaken 2,000 shopping trips for those in isolation, made 10,000 welfare check calls and 200 medication drop-offs, as well as 100 emergency home visits over the past 12 months.

The council’s housing management arm, Tower Hamlets Homes, helped voluntary organisations set up the community hubs after checking on its tenants.  

The first hub was set up by Neighbours in Poplar volunteers on March 23 last year. Others were set up by community centres at St Hilda’s in Shoreditch and Darul Ummah in Shadwell, which arranged meals, food parcels and even did shopping for those who couldn't get out. 

Volunteer at Shadwell's Darul Ummah food bank distribution centre.

Volunteer at Shadwell's Darul Ummah food bank distribution centre. - Credit: Rehan Jamil

“We were thinking what can we do when the lockdown happened,” Dural Ummah’s coordinator Khoyrul Shaheed said. “Tower Hamlets Homes helped with funds and referred people needing help after calling and checking in with all their elderly residents.” 

The hubs, which serve each of the East End’s postcode areas, are run by volunteers who check up on those in self-isolation who have little or no family support.  

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The first anniversary of the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK on March 23 has now led to an appeal by Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs to continue the voluntary work.  

He urged: “We must work together to keep this virus at bay. People have come together to support one another by doing charity work, making food donations and befriending which has all helped make this a better place.” 

The volunteers have tackled social isolation by checking on the elderly and vulnerable by phone and sometimes knocking on doors to make sure they have someone to talk to.  

Anyone willing to help is being urged to contact hub organisers by emailing community.partnerhsips@thh.org.uk. Meanwhile, the East London Cares charity is pairing young volunteers with isolated older people to make sure they have company and stay connected to the community.   

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