Hastings Community Creates Food Safety Net for Residents in Need
At the outset of the Covid-19 crisis, a Community Hub was established to create a partnership between local charities, community groups and statutory organisations to identify how to respond by offer support and practical services to Hastings residents whose lives were impacted by the virus or who felt isolated because of the lockdown
Since mid-March the hub has grown in size as more partners have joined the effort. There have been weekly virtual meetings led by Steve Manwaring, Director of Hastings Voluntary Action, that have brought together Community Hub partner organisations to create collaborative ways of working across the town.
One collaboration is the Hastings Emergency Food Response Group, chaired by Natalie Williams who oversees Hastings Foodbank at King’s Church. Natalie explains:
“The people of Hastings always pull together in a crisis, and the Hastings Emergency Food Response Group is a classic example of the community spirit in our town. Together, different food poverty charities from across the town are making sure that no one who needs food goes without. Between us, we’re reaching hundreds of vulnerable households every week. We have joined forces to provide a robust safety net for those who are hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. We are working together to try to make sure no one goes hungry in Hastings.”
The community response in Hastings ranges from cooking and freezing ready meals, providing free food delivery services, to distributing emergency food parcels for those most in need. During the month of April, 2,196 people received food from Hastings Foodbank, The Pantry fed 179 people and Hastings Community Transport covered over 475 miles collecting donations and delivering food parcels to residents.
Groups have worked together to identify gaps and areas of need and collaborated to avoid duplication of services. Much of the response has been made possible by the huge number of residents stepping forward to volunteer and support others, with Hastings HEART’s volunteer team completing over 150 food-related tasks in April alone.
Hastings Borough Council’s Covid-19 emergency telephone line has received over 1,000 calls, many of which have been responded to by voluntary sector organisations working in partnership with the council’s Community Hub team. Other collaborations include Dom’s Food Mission supporting In2Play, Oasis, the local Residents Association and Hastings Voluntary Action to establish an emergency food bag scheme in the Broomgrove estate providing food for 228 residents in April.
Steve Manwaring, Director of Hastings Voluntary Action said:
“These are just a few examples of the many ways in which community organisations and local volunteers have responded with a mixture of kindness energy and massive hard work to ensure that nobody is left isolated during this challenging time. The Community Hub has provided a platform to build these relationships and a base for working together on the economic and social recovery. I am proud of the way that Hastings has come together and shown true resilience and compassion as a town.”
All Hastings residents who need support, or their friends, family or carers, can contact Hastings Borough Council on a special helpline: 01424 451019, open 9am – 5pm Monday – Thursday, 9am – 4.30 pm on Fridays, 12am – 4pm on Saturdays on bank holidays. You can also register for help online at: https://www.hastings.gov.uk/my-council/covid19/help/
Support is also available from HEART (Hastings Emergency Action Response Team). Visit the Hastings HEART website to ask for help with shopping, collecting medications, posting mail, dog walking or other errands and support: www.hastingsheart.com
You can help local charities and community groups by donating to the Hastings Relief Fund:
Image: Alfie Head, 21 volunteering at the Hastings Foodbank Warehouse