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Resilience During Uncertain Times

A lady helps the community by delivering food to older people who are self isolating

The challenges we’ve faced this year have been extremely tough. The coronavirus pandemic was completely unexpected, and we’ve all had to adapt to a new way of living, whilst trying to remain strong, determined and patient. If you are struggling with your mental health, this uncertainty can bring even more stress and fear.

Our Community

Throughout this hard time, it has been wonderful to see friends and family pulling together to support one another and help the community. In Kensington and Chelsea, many voluntary and community organisations, as well as individual volunteers, have been working non-stop to provide people in the community with invaluable support.

We want to highlight the work of some of these incredible people, and say a huge ‘thank you’ to our voluntary heroes…

SMART (St Mary Abbotts Rehabilitation & Training)

SMART begun its food distribution service the day before lockdown started and during their busiest week, they distributed over 270 bags of food. SMART’s neighbours were incredible, popping in to donate food, money or deliver bags. SMART say they were particularly grateful to two young people and their mum who came every week to help out after they had finished their home-schooling.

Director of SMART, Amelia, said, “It has never been just about the food. After every long day of deliveries we would get a flurry of calls, emails and texts from people – ill, frightened, alone – whose world had been brightened by the brief human contact that they had from our volunteers.”

NHS Responders

NHS Responders are a national group of volunteers who provide support to anyone who is shielding, vulnerable, self-isolating or who has caring responsibilities. The volunteers provide various services, including telephone calls to check-in or give support, collection of shopping, medication or other essential supplies, and transport.
Throughout May and June, West London CCG had a total of 2,193 volunteers, who provided 7,698 tasks to 1,345 individuals.

Mutual Aid

Nathan Cooper, Mutual Aid Kensington and Chelsea Volunteer Coordinator, told us about the work they have been doing to help the community:

“In early March, Mutual Aid Kensington and Chelsea was created as a platform to enable neighbourliness in the RBKC. We realised that in this period of unprecedented and uncertain crisis, all residents – regardless of their background – would be affected. Our primary aim was to ensure we could support neighbours to: be kept well fed, have the medicine they need, not have to endanger their vulnerable loved ones by leaving the house, not have to feel alone, and to be able to feel like there’s someone out there listening and looking out for them.

To ensure we were as close to the ground as possible, we formed eight decentralised areas across RBKC, each with its own online communication channels and telephone number so neighbours seeking support could be connected with those offering their time to help out. During the peak of the pandemic, Mutual Aid welcomed around 15,000 volunteers making dozens of food deliveries, running essential errands, and providing health and wellbeing support, working in every RBKC ward, every day. In one ward alone, over 300 calls have led to over 150 support requests being dealt with, all whilst striving for the highest standards of safeguarding and confidentiality.”

To find out how to support Mutual Aid or receive support, please visit or drop us a line on [email protected]

Volunteer Centre Kensington & Chelsea

During the first few months of the pandemic, VCKC received over 2,000 registrations from potential volunteers wanting to help the community. Ahmed was one of those people, and here is his story…

When Ahmed first came to Wellbeing at VCKC (the Volunteering on Prescription team) he was struggling with depression and isolation after having to give up his job due to a health condition. He started to come to community volunteering taster days and to volunteer regularly at his local library and started to feel much happier.

During lockdown, starting in March 2020, he started to feel very isolated and depressed again. Wellbeing phoned Ahmed to assess his needs and started regular Welfare Check phone calls with him. They also liaised with his GP, who was monitoring him carefully. As his mood improved, he has been able to become a wellbeing volunteer and has been helped to access interactive online workshops, such as relaxation, art, and ‘Cook & Chat’. They have also been able to give him some tech support so that he can access his phone therapy sessions.

Recently Ahmed has been helped to facilitate an online wellbeing art workshop. This utilises his artistic skills, which were noted at his initial assessment, and has given him a focus, purpose and sense of pride and satisfaction.

Ahmed said: “I feel more hopeful about the future, I feel very happy. Since I met these people at the Volunteer Centre Kensington and Chelsea, I feel much better.”

Volunteering on Prescription

Volunteering on Prescription is a self-care programme that helps you meet people, share skills and interests and improve your wellbeing through volunteering tailored to your needs. The Volunteer Centre Kensington and Chelsea builds your programme around you and what you like. There is a range of different Self-Care services that can be accessed through Community Living Well.

You can refer to the Self-Care service by completing this online form or call 020 3317 4200.

This article was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 edition of Community Living Well magazine. To subscribe to receive the magazine, complete this form

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Posted on: 9th December 2020

SMART St Mary Abbots Rehabilitation and Training
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