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A community group bringing friendship, connection and food to isolated residents has received a huge boost to its activities with a new motorhome part-funded by a grant from Warwickshire County Cou...

A community group bringing friendship, connection and food to isolated residents has received a huge boost to its activities with a new motorhome part-funded by a grant from Warwickshire County Council.  

Nuneaton-based The Guardians Grow Community Group provides emergency food parcels and other services to vulnerable, elderly, disabled and isolated people across Nuneaton and Bedworth.  

With £44k from the County Council and around £46k raised by the community group, The Guardians Grow Group were able to buy and kit out the ‘Time for tea buzz’ to fit the needs of the project. The vehicle has been converted to provide a mobile food bank and honesty shop, hot food and drinks, as well as free wifi and access to a computer and printer.  

Sioux Watkins, Project manager, The Guardians Grow Community Group says:  

“During the first phase of lockdown we delivered more than 6,000 food packages and became a regular fixture for people in times of need, building up much needed relationships.  We realised quite quickly that most of the people we were serving, were more grateful for the opportunity for a quick chat, than they were to receive the shopping. Those brief few minutes were likely to be the only contact they had until they saw us again the following week. So we started to surprise them with random acts of kindness in the form of afternoon tea delivered to their door.  

“The inside of the ‘Time for tea buzz’ has been professionally wrapped in Alice in wonderland images as we wanted to create something that was intriguing rather than something that might feel institutional.  The new vehicle means we can build on our work and provide not only food and afternoon tea, but also bring people together, boost mental health and support isolated residents. It’s a wonderful partnership project between Warwickshire County Council and ourselves.  

“This Christmas Day we will be preparing over 150 hot meals and distributing them to the most vulnerable elderly in our community. We have engaged over 25 knitters across Nuneaton and Bedworth to join our “knit a hug” project knitting 10 cm squares to sew together forming blankets as a gift on Christmas Day. Meanwhile, schools are busy making Christmas cards, and families are writing letters - all to bring cheer and thoughts to those alone. We are currently awaiting charity status to continue our journey making a difference to those most vulnerable and in need.” 

The funding for the project came via the Government’s Covid-19 Emergency Assistance funding. In July, Warwickshire was allocated just over £520,000 of the £63m Covid-19 Emergency Assistance funding distributed to local authorities in England to help residents who are finding it hard to feed their families. 

This additional financial support enabled the County Council to further support communities who have been affected by Covid-19 by providing a much needed boost to support systems currently in place, such as the local welfare scheme, food vouchers, food banks and community based support. To ensure the best mix of support for local residents, the council initiated a project which ran over the summer in partnership with the district and borough councils.  

The Guardians Grow Community Group was one of the Warwickshire community groups invited to put forward a bid for funding to develop local support relating to these themes.  

Cllr Heather Timms, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Heritage & Culture says: “We are delighted to support this wonderful project which not only provides food, information and signposting to those in need; but most importantly, brings communities together and reduces isolation, loneliness and exclusion.  

“This initiative is just one of 27 schemes so far funded out of the Government’s Covid-19 Emergency Assistance funding. Money has now been awarded for a range of initiatives supporting our most vulnerable residents including community cafes, provision of fruit and veg bags, a community kitchen, mobile food banks, expansion of local food banks to provide chilled food and much more. 

The pandemic may require us to distance ourselves from one another, but this project, along with countless others, shows how much our community is coming together to support each other.” 

The schemes will be promoted to people in local areas and more details will be made available as the projects develop. In the meantime Warwickshire County Council’s hotline on 0800 408 1447 remains open for people who need urgent help to access food and well-being support during these difficult times.    

The council’s welfare scheme, accessible via the hotline, or online www.warwickshire.gov.uk/localwelfarescheme can also assist people in crisis by offering short term support to manage the needs of their households. To qualify for support from the scheme people need to be a UK resident, aged 16 or over, and have no other financial means to access food or fuel. Anyone facing serious hardship is invited to get in touch to find out more.    

For more information about council services and support during the pandemic, visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/coronavirus

       

Published: 18th November 2020