A converted motorhome is making a huge difference to the lives of vulnerable, elderly, disabled and isolated people across Nuneaton and Bedworth.
It is dubbed the ‘Time for tea buzz’ and boasts everything from a mobile food bank and honesty shop, hot food and drinks, as well as free wifi and access to a computer and printer.
The Camp Hill-based The Guardians Grow Community Group are behind the project which allows them to visit and make sure the lonely and elderly are surviving through lockdown.
It was with £44,000 from Warwickshire County Council that they were able to convert the motorhome and Sioux Watkins, Project manager, The Guardians Grow Community Group, explained why it is so desperately needed.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
The ‘buzz’ will be used as part of the group’s plans for the festive season, as they plan to deliver meals on Christmas Day.
“This Christmas Day we will be preparing over 150 hot meals and distributing them to the most vulnerable elderly in our community,” she said.
“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.”
Where the cash came from
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 pot to help residents who are finding it hard to feed their families.
The Guardians Grow Community Group was among those to make a bid for funding – and one of almost 30 to receive cash.
Councillor Heather Timms, cabinet member for environment and heritage and culture at Shire Hall, said: “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.”
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.
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.
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