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There for you: ‘Virtual’ services set up to distribute food and even laptops to families in Poplar

PUBLISHED: 12:00 20 May 2020

Wellwisher donating food to Poplar community centre being used as emergency food hub. Picture: Poplar Harca

Wellwisher donating food to Poplar community centre being used as emergency food hub. Picture: Poplar Harca

Poplar Harca

A major East End housing association has raised £10,000 in public donations to run its community centres as online “virtual hubs” to distribute food and even loan out IT equipment to families in isolation.

Poplar Harca'’s communities director Babu Bhattacherjee... Poplar Harca'’s communities director Babu Bhattacherjee... "We're adapting how we work to address needs of the most vulnerable. " Picture: Mike Brooke

The centres are being used by Poplar Harca during the pandemic to send out groceries and fresh produce as well as laptops and tablet devices for home schooling.

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“We’re adapting the way we work,” Poplar Harca’s communities director Babu Bhattacherjee explained. “We’re providing support to address the needs of the most vulnerable.”

Poplar Harca is sending out 120 grocery packages a week and 130 hot meals a day to those in need, while loaning 30 families tablet devices and broadband in some cases so that kids get home-schooling.

Spaced out... volunteers at this Poplar community centre turned into an emergency 'food hub'. Picture: Poplar HarcaSpaced out... volunteers at this Poplar community centre turned into an emergency 'food hub'. Picture: Poplar Harca

Online programmes are providing a “virtual space” for neighbours to cook with each other, brush up their digital skills and exercise, a new GP service for youngsters with appointments on voice or video call and a youth worker service with one-to-one virtual appointments with staff on hand to listen and make referrals. Employment training has also moved online with The Hive programme, offering courses in business admin and health and social care.


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