18 June 2020
Queen’s Crescent Community Association (QCCA) in Gospel Oak, North London, provides a range of free and subsidised services to local people, including a youth club, a nursery and a lunch club and activities for older people.
Gospel Oak is in the top ten percent of areas where Over-65s describe themselves as ‘lonely’, which is why QCCA has focussed their efforts on tackling social isolation in particular, as well as addressing the health problems that can trap people at home.
Before the pandemic started QCCA offered a packed programme of ‘Forever Young’ activities for the over 60s each weekday at their main centre behind Queen’s Crescent market. The regular sessions included everything from chair-based exercises and Dancercise to tapestry and drama. For those who found it hard to get around, the organisation offered a mini-bus service with door-to-door pick-ups twice a week.
Regulars also enjoyed a delicious, healthy two-course lunch, made using food from FareShare.
After lockdown began the charity had to adapt its services to keep their members, many of whom are clinically vulnerable to Covid-19, safe. However, they knew that opportunities to socialise and stay in touch are, for many older people, just as important as a hot meal.
QCCA now packs and delivers food boxes to around 70 older people, using food from FareShare. Some of the food also made into hot meals by volunteers and then delivered to people who might struggle to cook at home. It also gives volunteers the chance to check in on people who are living alone.
Graham Wade, Publicity and Marketing Manager at QCCA says: “The food drops are extremely well received. People really appreciate the help to keep them safe and the knowledge that others are looking out for them and caring is enormously powerful. Some people are depending on the deliveries for basic sustenance, and for everyone who receives, it brings a connection and knowledge that they are valued and supported, which is invaluable.”
Loneliness doesn’t only affect older people. Many of the children and young people supported by QCCA are also struggling to stay connected to their friends now the Youth Club is closed. To help tackle this, any snacks and treats from FareShare are shared out among QCCAs Youth Club members, who can pick them up – and check in with the team at the same time.
“It’s the perfect way to make sure that none of the food from FareShare goes to waste. It kept the connection with youth members, many of whom face more difficult challenges at this time of isolation and restriction,” Graham explains. “We’ve had so much positive feedback about the services we’re running at this time.”