A campaign to support vulnerable people through the coronavirus outbreak has delivered 4,000 food parcels and handled 7,500 calls.
#StokeonTrentTogether, an initiative by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and voluntary sector partner VAST, launched on 23 March in response to the outbreak to help those people most in need in the city.
In just nine weeks the campaign has received 2,607 calls from people requesting support, and 737 calls from people wanting to give their support to help others. A total of 1,104 requests have been received for collecting and delivering prescriptions, with an average of 22 being delivered each day.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “The success of this campaign speaks volumes of the fantastic people in our city. We launched this initiative quickly in response to the coronavirus as a way to support vulnerable people in most need of our help. The initiative has touched the hearts and minds of people across Stoke-on-Trent, and the number of residents and organisations that have pledged their support has been incredible.
“Some of the calls for support have been for multiple reasons, such as food and prescriptions rather than just food. The highest number of requests for food parcels has been from people aged 65-74, and people aged over 75.
“People have asked for help with things such as food, medication collection, supplies for babies and dog walking. Residents and organisations have offered support in a range of areas including deliveries, 3-D printing, food parcels, providing animal feeds and prescription collections.
“A small number of organisations have requested support in areas such as small business rates relief and business finance. We have been able to support these businesses through the small business grants fund.”
Food boxes continue to be available for free to those who need them and at a charge for people who are able to pay for food but cannot get to the supermarket. The charge for a standard food box is £34 which includes a wide range of items. A smaller food box has been made available from this week, for £17, at the request of residents who live alone and have found that the large box is too much for them.
The number of people paying for food parcels remains very low, and residents are also being advised of supermarket services, especially those offering volunteer card schemes which give residents a wider choice of foods which can be more adapted to dietary needs.
If residents know somebody who is self-isolating or shielding and who doesn’t have family or friends to call upon for support, then #StokeonTrentTogether can help. Residents can fill out the online form at www.corona19.vast.org.uk or they can call 0800 561 5610 which is open Monday to Sunday between 9am and 5pm.
Meanwhile, The Hubb Foundation has now provided 50,000 meals for residents in response to the coronavirus. The foundation joined with Port Vale FC, Port Vale Foundation, Synectics Solutions and Summit Hospitality to pool their resources to support the local community during the pandemic. Set up at Vale Park, the team of volunteers is putting together food parcels and activity packs with the help of local businesses and donations from the community.
The Hubb Foundation still needs donations of tinned meats, pies, soups, fruit, long life milk, pasta and sauce, rice, tea, coffee, sugar and washing up liquid. Donations can be dropped off at Port Vale Football Club, opposite the main entrance. Residents can also sponsor a family of four for three days for just £25. If residents require assistance during this period please contact either Foundation.Trust@Port-Vale.co.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org.
VAST acting CEO Lisa Healings said: “We’ve been genuinely overwhelmed and thrilled by the generous response from people in the city. Staff have worked incredibly hard to make this happen and it has been complemented hugely by the number of volunteers who have given up their time to help #StokeonTogether run smoothly.”
Stoke-on-Trent Foodbank operations manager Corrine Boden said: “I am constantly inspired by, and in admiration of, the spirit of volunteering. We are I’m so thankful for the provision of time, money and food given by the generosity of local people and local businesses, and the magnificent support from the staff team, trustees, Trussell Trust, multi-agency partners, funders, sponsors and supporters, all of whom enable our work to continue.”
Meanwhile, residents are urged to continue to follow the national health guidance on social distancing over the warm weekend, and of the risks around cooling off in open water.
Councillor Brown said: “The weather will continue to be really warm over the weekend, however please don't be tempted to cool off in rivers, canals, ponds, quarries or lakes. Cooling off in open water can have deadly consequences. The water may look calm on the surface, but there may still be strong undercurrents that could pull even a strong swimmer under.
“The water may also feel relatively warm on the surface, but just a few feet below can be icy cold even in the hot weather and can very quickly cause severe cramp and hypothermia.”
For water safety advice, visit https://www.rlss.org.uk/pages/category/water-safety-information.
For more information and advice on coronavirus (Covid-19) please visit Public Health England:
https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated.
For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.