Funding joy for organisers of Bishop's Stortford's Covid-19 lifeline support scheme Operation CommUNITY
A "fantastic web of support" is keeping Bishop's Stortford-based lifeline scheme Operation CommUNITY on track – and organisers have revealed they have secured funding until the end of March.
The scheme, which was launched in March 2020 at the start of the first coronavirus lockdown to support vulnerable people, ran out of funding in January but received a Covid Winter Grant of £9,634 from Hertfordshire Community Foundation to keep its vital support network going.
Lisa Rodmell, of Bishop's Wellbeing and lead volunteer for Operation CommUNITY, revealed the scheme had delivered 4,999 meals to individuals, families and homeless people, and heaped praise on the community for its continued support.
"Behind the scenes we have created a fantastic web of support which embraces and supports our community in ways our town can be extremely proud of," she said.
"We have people like Trisha Moore, Mandy Reid and Pam Smythe, who co-ordinate food collections from Waitrose, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and local market traders such as Taste.
"This food then gets distributed to where it is needed and between the food bank, the night shelter, Operation CommUNITY as well as individuals who need a little helping hand, to ensure nothing is wasted."
Lisa said the scheme had also been providing transport for vaccinations.
"Pam is often found online rallying support from within our community in ways which best support calls for help, from baby food, bedding to arranging a volunteer to cook a meal and ensuring its safe delivery.
"Pam states 'None of it is rocket science. If we help each other and give people a hand up, they in turn help others – that’s it in a nutshell’."
The business community has been vital supporters of the scheme. Waitrose Bishop's Stortford's Community Matters champion, Tracy Whitfield, donated more than £300 worth of Waitrose gifts in recognition of the contribution and efforts of volunteers during the Covid pandemic.
In January, Stortford-based online shopping portal The Giving Machine recognised Operation CommUNITY as its charity of the month and in February donated face masks to the scheme's meals on wheels volunteers.
The scheme has also worked in conjunction with the Bishop's Stortford Independent through its online fundraising HELP campaign which aims to turn tears of despair to tears of joy by 'Helping to Ease Lockdown Pain'.
Through the campaign, an elderly man who could no longer use a sofa as he struggled to get up and down from it was given a more suitable, comfortable seat.
Richard Webb, of Stortford Man & Van, agreed to remove the old sofa free of charge, much to the delight and gratitude of lead volunteer Lisa.
Besides the meals on wheels service, the scheme has completed 1,106 shopping trips and errands, sent out 1,088 care packages and managed 4,832 phone calls via its virtual call centre, supporting 81 people with befriending services and advice and guidance.
Operation CommUNITY provides the following services:
- meals on wheels
- befriending line, 8am to 8pm, 01279 942025;
- welfare support
- general enquiries line on 01279 942025.
If you know someone who might be in need of financial support through the Indie's HELP campaign, contact 01279 942100.