Vassall & Coldharbour COVID-19 Emergency Response Consortium: What Is Most Pressing During Lockdown?

Big Local Impact is a member of Vassall & Coldharbour Covid-19 Emergency Response Consortium. The local grassroots organisations had their first meeting since we went into a second national lockdown.

It was an opportunity to explain what they were up to and what the groups saw as the most pressing needs.

The latest restrictions have compounded an already difficult situation for many. Paula Bryan works for Carers4Carers who offer services online in Brockwell Park and Wyck Gardens. She has seen a high increase in mental health issues stemming from grief and trauma, which in turn has caused increased waiting time for support services.

John McCay from Stockwell Partnership also shared his experiences. The Partnership works closely with the Portuguese community. Many of the more elderly residents have the additional challenge of language barriers. He has seen a surge in unemployment with people needing help with benefit and Universal Credit claims.

Services and support having to be remote proved to be one of the most pressing issues for members. Catherine Hamilton from Longfield Hall mentioned that although they were able to live stream their events not everybody was able to access them. Charlotte Laws is from Repowering London, an organisation which advises on energy-related issues. The move online has proved difficult with elderly people. Many are struggling to take photos on mobile devices of an energy meter which is in an inconvenient position.

Christian Johnson from CEF Lyncx felt many in the community were anxious about the lack of clarity. There is still confusion about what is and isn’t allowed with the new restrictions. The curtailment of grassroots sports activities has particularly been unhelpful and they are now having to move services online.

The group also shared their efforts to combat these obstacles.

Karen Hooper works for The Loughborough Farm and is keeping in touch with vulnerable volunteers, regular phone calls, cards and texts. The Loughborough Farm also hold a weekly Zoom Teabreak every Saturday afternoon. Surjit Power has stressed the need for online exercise classes and one-to-one chats with those older people who are now isolated.

Mark Ovenden from The Remakery said he was optimistic about the prospect of students and graduates volunteering. Gerry Evans from Lambeth council said that she is now co-ordinating people who have offered to volunteer through Lambeth council.

Different services have also begun to coordinate their responses. John McCay relayed the efforts of Thriving Stockwell. They are working with the local cluster of GP surgeries to provide a more joined-up service. The Stockwell Forum meets monthly; anyone who wants to attend can email john@stockwell.org.uk.

Fabrice Boltho from Myatt’s Fields Park has been growing plants for local food growing projects. He also made initial plans to run online sessions for people wanting to grow produce on their balconies and window cills.

Anthony Bailey from Happy Drums has been offering outdoor drumming sessions in Myatt’s Fields Park. He also began online sessions every Wednesday.

What do you feel are the most pressing issues at the moment? Do you have any thoughts on how best to combat these?

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