The Heart of the Community
Even though we have been facing some challenging times, there have been communities, local groups and people trying to help others.
Joan Rich, a 102 year old retired NHS nurse, completed her 102nd charity walk to raise money for the NHS. She walked 102 laps of her local park before her birthday on 11th September. Joan had worked for the NHS for much of her life and was inspired to raise money for them by a local resident who had mowed “NHS” into one of the lawns during lockdown and Sir Tom Moore. She also helped prisoners of war return to health during the Second World War and she felt that same community spirit during the pandemic.
“I wanted to do my bit for them,” she said.
Her daughter, who helped her with her fund raising said that Joan has been humbled by the support she has had from neighbours, friends and strangers. That no matter how big or small all donations add up to help raise money for the NHS.
A local group in Windsor founded by Tija Stephens, set up a community fridge during the pandemic to help those in the community who had lost their jobs, fallen on hard times or just needed extra support.
Tiia said: “Initially it was going to be for the people accessing the homeless project, but I think because of COVID, it’s more of a need I think for the community,”
“Think of the people who have lost their jobs, people have been furloughed, people have got to look at new ways, and find any jobs going.”
She added: “I thought this is a real, big, big, big issue and it’s going to get worse, so I wanted to set up a community fridge.”
The fridge at the community Wellbeing Hub will help local families and the community. Filled with quality goods that would otherwise be going to waste, from top brands Tescos, Waitrose and M&S. When the Fridge opened on 6th April this year, it fed key workers, looked after the homeless by providing hot meals, supported housing tenants and delivered food to the elderly. Tija hopes that when the lockdown measures are relaxed, she will be able to expand it to also help the homeless. Giving them access to learning, help with Cv’s and cookery, arts and crafts lessons.
Sports groups are also helping people through this time, with the Black Cyclists Network who created a community group as they felt more white dominated groups where not inclusive enough. Local riders go to feel part of the wider community and can talk about issues that they are facing. They are encouraged and supported in the cycling and in their personal life. Giving people a space to feel part of something and supported when this may not be possible.
There are also sports groups going the extra mile to help people find the right path in life, like the Bilston gym, set up by Carlo and Santino to help develop people’s skills beyond just the physical aspects of the gym.
“What we have done as a gym is to create our own cutting knife crime project, which is one of many community projects we’re running.” – Santino.
“Through this, we supply the gym and coaches to help build confidence, as well as offer a distraction too youngsters who may be going down the wrong track.”
The gym gets funding to help set up a quarterly course to run a knife crime project, which is an issue in the wider community. The gym focuses as much on the community as it does the sport, trying to write the wrongs in the community. They feel that they see a fragmented society at times, and want to bring together people to train together who, outside the gym, their paths would never cross. By doing all this work with the community they hope to provide people with a second chance and that there is another option in life.
At Free2learn we think that helping and working with the wider community is important and empowering people to change their future and reach their goals.