Still supporting our communities through Covid-19 – one year on

Published Friday, 19 March 2021

Exactly one year ago, Bromley’s volunteering and assistance programme was launched as a lifeline to residents as the country went into lockdown for the first time in the Covid-19 global pandemic.

As many of our more clinically vulnerable residents were advised to stay at home and shield, the council set up a shielding distribution hub at the Civic Centre run by seconded staff to support the government provision of weekly essential food parcels for those unable to get to the shops. Nearly 5,000 volunteers came forward and so began the process of matching volunteers to those of the thousands of residents in Bromley who required help and support.

Today, the council is still working with caring volunteers and staff to help and support residents, checking they are all right, ensuring they can access food and other necessities, offering a friendly phone call for those people who have become isolated and lonely on their own during these difficult times, and referring on to other services as necessary.

Councillor Diane Smith, Executive Member for Adult Care and Health said: “I want to repeat my resounding and sincere thank you, one year on, to all the volunteers who came forward during this pandemic, selflessly giving up time to help others in their neighbourhood. It was a magnificent show of strength and community spirit and supported by our own council staff seconded to the programme who have also shown remarkable fortitude, ensured that people could get food and essentials and were able to stay as safe as possible at home without worrying about how they would get help.”

By wave two of the pandemic, the shielding numbers had grown to nearly 22,000 residents. Over both waves, 3,670 calls were made to check that residents indicating a support need were alright and were receiving the help they needed, with the remainder reached through a combination of 5,000 text messages, 3000 plus emails and more than 20,000 letters.

Now, a year on, as more people have been able to set up ways of getting groceries delivered, with help where needed, the council and its army of volunteers are turning attention to ensuring those who feel isolated and lonely can still get a regular phone call or other help they may need.

If you are someone who needs support, or you are aware of someone who would benefit from help or a regular call, please go online at www.bromley.gov.uk/covid19assistanceform or call the council’s assistance line on 020 8313 4484 to be matched with the appropriate support.

Cllr Diane Smith added: “We are fully committed to supporting our more vulnerable residents and have a listening ear to their needs. We know that many people have really suffered from loneliness during these times of isolation, so we want to hear from anyone who would be buoyed up by some regular contact by phone. We have people who have volunteered to help and they would be delighted to do so. Just get in touch.

“We remain absolutely determined as a council to draw as many positives from the heartfelt misery of the last year as we possibly can to ensure that Bromley emerges from this crisis an even stronger and better place for us all to live in than when the pandemic struck.

“It would be really sad to lose the amazing outpouring of spirit and resolve demonstrated by so many people throughout the ordeal. How best to harness it, for the good of the wider community, now sits very firmly at the heart of our thinking.”

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For media enquiries, please contact Susie Clark, Communications Executive, on 020 8461 7911 or email susie.clark@bromley.gov.uk