Here is your fortnightly newsletter sent on behalf of The Collaborative Communities COVID-19 Board.
From response to recovery: Over the past 4 months, the Collaborative Communities COVID-19 Board has been focusing on responding to the pandemic and supporting Suffolk. This includes the Home, But Not Alone phoneline, food and medication deliveries, emergency food parcels, foodbanks, emergency housing and other support services. You’ll find an infographic in this newsletter highlighting the extent of community work.
Due to the continued easing of restrictions, the Board has agreed to move from an emergency response phase into recovery. Although there is a change of focus, the Board is conscious that the situation is changeable and will be ready to respond to any local outbreaks should the need arise.
As we move to recovery, the Board has agreed to focus on the following themes:
- Food and hardship
- Support to the voluntary and community sector
- Restoring the social infrastructure of our communities and combatting loneliness
In light of this change from response to recovery, the newsletter will now be sent monthly. If you wish to be removed from this mailing list, please let us know by return.
We need your help: We are also establishing a Community Reference Group to support the recovery process in Suffolk. This will play an important role in advising and co-producing with statutory services across the county. If you would like the opportunity to contribute to the work of this group - either by completing short surveys or dialling into meetings from time to time - please let us know by return. There is no expectation that you will be able to do this if called upon, but it would be great to hear from and involve you as we move forwards.
Spotlight on Suffolk’s Food Banks
Food banks are designed to provide short-term, emergency support with food during a crisis. Their aim is to relieve the immediate pressure of the crisis by providing food, whilst also providing additional support to help people resolve the crises that they face. As Covid-19 continues to unfold food banks have been hit hard in terms of meeting increasing demand with a matching supply. They play a major role in the provision of food by distributing donated and purchased groceries directly to families in need.
Pre-C19 there were just over 20 established food banks in Suffolk; there are now 49 established and pop up food banks operating weekly.
Since the end of March 2020, Community Action Suffolk (CAS) has been working in partnership with Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council and East Suffolk, Babergh and Mid Suffolk and West Suffolk Councils to establish a food supply chain to food banks across Suffolk. The newly formed collaboration has continued to meet regularly to look at the information being collected from food banks and offer help where needed; this has included additional food at short notice and extra storage. CAS have been able to provide advice on both funding and sustainability and appropriate governance for those food banks looking at a more formal structure going forward.
These tough times have inspired many organisations to create pop-up food banks: Bacton Foodbank was set up by Rev Carl Melville in direct response to the lockdown. He originally planned to help the villages in his local area to the north of Stowmarket but is now serving a wider catchment since he has plenty of food available and funding in place. The Foodbank has been supporting over 20 households weekly to date. Carl said: “I have been shocked at how quickly things have changed for families, particularly families with children.”
The National food charity FareShare has a base in Suffolk and has been a member of CAS for a number of years. CAS contacted FareShare who already supplied food banks across Suffolk to ask them to take on further food banks. This partnership has gone from strength to strength and with help from the MOD for deliveries, FareShare is continuing to expand the number of food banks it supplies weekly.
A snapshot of some of things achieved since March:
I hope you will agree that these are quite substantial numbers and could not have been achieved without the help and support of you all. As chair of the Collaborative Communities COVID-19 Board, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you.
I hope you are finding some cool comfort during this warm weather.
With best wishes,
Chrissie Geeson (Head of Localities and Partnerships, Suffolk County Council)
Chair of the Collaborative Communities COVID-19 Board
The Board is made up of: Community Action Suffolk, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, Church of England in Suffolk, East Suffolk Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, Ministry of Defence, National Probation Service – Norfolk & Suffolk, Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Suffolk Association of Local Councils, Suffolk Community Foundation, Suffolk Constabulary, Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Voluntary Organisations Group, West Suffolk CCG, West Suffolk Council