Support Redditch started in March 2020, becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in April 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the early stages of the pandemic the services we provided focused on:
- Food Support
- Medication Support
- Shopping Support
Volunteers for Support Redditch and our partners provided food parcels to the vulnerable and those in need, queued to collect prescriptions and went to the shops for those who were unable to get outside.
As the summer of 2020 approach the number of infections fell dramatically and it looked like things were going to get easier. There was a relaxation of measures and we were all encouraged to get back to the office and even to eat out more. The call for services from those in need drastically reduced, whilst at the same time the supermarkets and pharmacists developed their services so that more people could get deliveries for instance.
It was at this time we decided to ‘scale down’ as it was difficult to see where the emergency was and how we could help. At one point we seriously considered wrapping up the whole charity, but then the summer holidays moved into focus and our services were needed once again.
This time it different. It wasn’t about going to the shops or getting medication for people who were shielding, it was about getting basic foodstuffs to families who were on low incomes and who were going to struggle through the school holiday period. There were no holiday clubs to send the kids to, and that meant more pressure on parents who were already on the edge, financially speaking. We swung into action by providing over 30 households across Redditch with a food parcel every week for the duration of the summer holidays. Families were selected by the Borough Council on the basis of assessed need. We knew, therefore, we were working to support the most vulnerable families in Redditch.
At the end of the summer holidays we were grateful to receive support from Tesco and Morrisons who provided us with some basic school uniform items, which we provided to our families to help them get their children back to school in the autumn.
A period of quiet followed, but unlike in the summer this time the infection numbers were rising. We decided to continue in case another lockdown came, and certainly enough it did in November 2020. At this point the Borough Council asked us if we would consider providing a repeated and expanded version of the scheme we ran in the summer holidays, to which we agreed.
We are currently providing over 30 households with parcels once again, this time not only those with children but also those with elderly residents or children who are too young for school. Families enter and exit the scheme depending on their circumstances, so the total number supported fluctuates.
Our food parcels provide each family with basic nutrition for a week. As we are relying on granted/reserved funds to pay for this service we need to make it stretch to as many families as possible, and we also have to be mindful not to provide ‘junk food’. That’s why we also depend on donations of crisps, chocolates and other ‘treats’ so we can include them in the boxes to enhance the offer. We are actively appealing for donations of this kind to continue, and would also add a call for toiletries, soaps and lotions along with anything else deemed ‘non-essential’ but are the kinds of things people really like to get. These donations turn a basic food parcel into a package of love and care.
In December 2020 we partnered with several local community organisations and religious groups to provide a hot meal service. This is currently providing over 50 meals per day, across 6 days of the week, to anyone who is in need between December and January.