Residents rally to help virus victims

Edmonton-based charity The Felix Project
Edmonton-based charity The Felix Project, which delivers surplus food to impoverished families, is recruiting extra volunteers to cope with demand during the pandemic. Sign up at thefelixproject.org or call 020 3034 4350

Series of community initiatives launched across Enfield to support people being forced to self-isolate at home, reports James Cracknell

Local residents, businesses, charities and civic groups are teaming up to help support victims of the Covid-19 pandemic in Enfield.

Mutual aid groups are providing assistance for families forced to self-isolate at home, while Enfield Council has brought local voluntary groups together to offer help for residents impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

North Middlesex University Hospital in Edmonton has had to rapidly adapt its emergency department to treat a huge influx of Covid-19 patients. One doctor took to Twitter to appeal for more furniture – receiving a flurry of donations within hours. The hospital is now appealing for volunteers to help with family liaison, making cups of tea, and sanitising wards – as well as donations of gadgets such as tablets that will help patients connect with loved ones. Nearby Millfield Theatre is also offering its car park to NHS staff for free.

As the government told people to avoid unnecessary social contact and advised vulnerable groups to stay at home, on Facebook residents set up a page where communities could organise their own support networks. Adam McGibbon helped establish a mutual aid group for Enfield Island Village and told the Dispatch: “We are putting leaflets through doors and giving people contact details if they need support. We want to take the burden off the authorities. Neighbours are in the best position to provide immediate help.”

Most council meetings have been postponed and all libraries have been closed, but the local authority is continuing to provide essential services and support even while many of its staff are forced to work from home. Together with Enfield Voluntary Action it launched a scheme called ‘Enfield Stands Together‘ to unite NHS partners, Enfield Carers Centre, Age UK and Citizens Advice Enfield.

Council leader Nesil Caliskan announced that £100,000 had been made available for “community resilience” efforts. She said: “We know this is an extremely anxious time. We are heartened that our community in Enfield is already pulling together and we will continue to work with residents and community organisations to build more resilience and be prepared.

“Enfield Stands Together will play a vital role in mobilising hundreds of volunteers to support critical council and voluntary sector provision and make sure our most vulnerable residents are supported during this difficult time.”

Enfield Health and Wellbeing Centre is now providing a 24-hour telephone befriending service to elderly people who live alone or need someone to talk to. Call 020 3731 2608.

Demand for household goods has more than doubled in recent weeks, with stockpiling leading to empty shelves at supermarkets – despite reassurances that such supplies are unaffected. Local businesses have stepped in to help.

Wholesaler JJ Foodservice, based at Innova Business Park in Enfield Lock, is now offering a home delivery service for the borough. Chief operating officer Mushtaque Ahmed said: “With schools closing and many of us working from home, essential products have never been more important. We are here to help.”

Managers of Edmonton Green Shopping Centre have also delivered 60 packages of household essentials to vulnerable people in need living at Mendip House, the 25-storey tower located above the centre.

Ponders End resident Adrian White, who setup homelessness charity Hearts and Helpers last year, is giving away 100 homemade hand sanitisers to rough sleepers, hospital workers, foodbanks and other vulnerable people. He said: “With the increasingly scary Covid-19 situation, hand sanitiser is almost impossible to get hold of. Homeless people are highly susceptible to the virus and are in contact with the the public every single day, so I wanted to give them some form of protection.”

Love Your Doorstep (LYDS), a local business network and social enterprise, has made its own coronavirus action plan. It is now working with more than 30 community organisations, including The Felix Project which supplies food to impoverished families from its base in Edmonton, as well as North Enfield Foodbank. If you are interested in volunteering, click here, or if you would like to register yourself or someone you know for assistance, click here. There is also a fundraising appeal.

LYDS has so far handled more than 200 residents’ requests. Founder Emma Rigby said: “It’s all hands on deck across the borough – working with so many of our amazing local charities.”

There was even a surprise volunteer at Age UK Enfield this week when Tottenham Hotspur manager José Mourinho turned up to help load grocery bags. The Spurs boss said: “I am giving a little help… you can donate food, money, or volunteer – it is so easy!”

Get the latest advice from Enfield Council, register for help, or fill in a business impact monitoring form:
Visit enfield.gov.uk/covid19

Find a mutual aid group in your area:
Visit facebook.com/groups/221075632630141

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