Volunteer-run community hubs across Barrow have supported some of the area’s most vulnerable people and families during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and lockdown.
As part of ‘Barrow the Place’ initiative, Spring Mount, Ormsgill, Walney, Barrow Island and Hindpool/Central community hubs, have provided daily food parcels, dental and toiletries packs and children’s packs to help people through the crisis.
By the end of May to the middle of June, Spring Mount community hub alone had supported 3,286 people across Barrow. The hub has also provided mental health drop-in support for young people, which was funded by Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group.
The ‘Barrow the Place’ initiative has been funded by a £130,000 grant from Cumbria Community Foundation which has supported volunteers, public sector, third sector organisations, multi-agency groups and partners including the Barrow Community Resilience Forum to work together through May to July to help those people and families in crisis.
The community hubs are supported by the Love Barrow Together project, which is made up of a team of health and social care workers across child and adult services, Barrow Integrated Care Community (ICC), third sector organisations and faith groups. Vulnerable people and families can be referred to the community hubs by their GP, Barrow Emergency Hub and Barrow ICC.
Alysha Moore, Youth Development Worker for Walney Community Trust, said: “Since March, once lockdown was announced, the staff of Walney Community Trust pulled together to create a food bank. We started off small, looking after those families we already support on a regular basis through our centre by providing food parcels and toiletries. This soon began to expand quickly not only across Walney, but, the whole of Barrow, Dalton, Askam and even Ulverston. As we were picking up numbers, we began working closely with the council and other centres to set up other food banks to split up some of the areas. Walney Community Trust has worked with several other hubs since and we have all supported one another.
“We could also not have run these food hubs without the local support of supermarkets and local businesses such as Tesco, Morrisons, Orsted, BAE, Aldi, Gillams Tea rooms, Two-Tinned and many others who have locally given either their donations or their time to volunteer here with us to either pack up or deliver our food parcels. At the moment our statistics show that we have supported at least 2,031 households with our parcels.
“The community of Walney and Barrow has pulled together immensely to show support to their own community by supporting those who are vulnerable and in need, we could not have done it without everyone who has been involved.”
Maxine Baron, Development Lead for Barrow ICC, said: “It’s been amazing how people have pulled together during the crisis to help some of the most vulnerable families and people across Barrow. Going forward we will be looking at how we can harness that goodwill and partnership working to continue to support those most in need.
“Lankelly Chase Foundation has recently awarded a further £100,000 to ‘Barrow the Place’ which will support the hubs, food distribution and activities for families over the summer. It will also help to support mental health and wellbeing as there has been an increase in demand for wellbeing and specialist support across many of our local charities.
“The town is seeing a lot of new poverty with people losing their jobs due to coronavirus. This group has become quite vulnerable so support from the hubs will be vital during this time.”
Barrow ICC will continue to hold family Multi-Disciplinary Team meetings to identify vulnerable families and with their consent, the ICC will meet with statutory bodies and third sector groups to see how they can support them.
Around 215 families have already been referred to the community hubs for support and will take part in a Food, Fun and Fitness programme over the summer. Volunteers from Barrow ICC have also supported local residents by delivering prescriptions and Every Life Matters information leaflets to support their wellbeing during the pandemic and lockdown.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Age UK Barrow and St Mary’s Hospice set up The Support Hub, based at The Living Well Centre on Duke Street in Barrow where they provide services to those most vulnerable and elderly people who were struggling with basic everyday tasks due to shielding and/or self-isolating. With support from Barrow Borough Council and Cumbria County Council, Age UK has provided services to 850 people aged 60 and over with a total of 3,551 contacts (4.17 contacts per client).