Food for Thought from Community Hubs working through Covid-19
Thanks to support from the Investing in Communities Fund, Dundee Volunteer and Voluntary Action’s two community hubs have stepped up to the plate during Covid-19, focusing on tackling food insecurity and connecting community resources.
In the North East, Link Up Whitfield have successfully held meetings during lockdown with the local GP Surgery and Green Health Prescriber. This has allowed us to let them know about our community health walks and our community garden both of which are certified as Dementia and Cancer Friendly. Since restarting our walks and gardening sessions in Autumn, we have seen the number of participants double and are already receiving referrals in from the GP and Green Health Team.
Lochee Community Hub quickly developed links with other services and contacted clients through phone and online. From this we gathered information regarding the stress around food availability for reasons due to shielding as well as financial hardship. With this we linked in with 24 other organisations through the Dundee Food Insecurity Network* and began to assist with food availability within Lochee. We developed relationships with the chemists within Lochee and began completing outreach work by delivering food parcels as well as assistance with mental health, addiction and benefit advice. So far since the Hub closed in March and then reopened in August, to date we have distributed 18,883 food parcels to individuals.
Both Community Hubs contributed and connected with the Dundee Food Insecurity Network. The Network made up of 24 local organisations and community groups responded to the Covid-19 crisis to co-ordinate emergency food distribution to individuals and families across Dundee.
We worked with a number of families in Fintry, particularly those who are working and student parents through the Discoverin’ Families Project. There was a successful bid to the local regeneration fund to start an after-school laughter club in the area. This piloted before lockdown and all places were filled, meeting weekly. The review of this was that the area would benefit from this group on a permanent basis. Due to Covid-19 we have been unable to implement this further however home-based activities have been delivered. These Fintry family activities have included everything from Grow Your Own Veg Planting to Family Chutney Making.
“I have not cooked for myself in 10 years from fresh this has given me the confidence to do this and I am loving it” Lochee Community Hub, Cooking Class Video participant.
To support people at home who could not access group activities, Lochee Community Hub staff completed Cooking Class Videos online. The videos we have posted online aim to develop individuals cooking on a budget skills. Each video comes with a recipe guide and instructions on how to cook the meal. When looking at the posts it has connected with over 3,000 people and some have commented and also tried out cooking the meals themselves. From this we developed the idea to also provide the cooking on a budget bags from the Hub along with the food parcels if wanted. From this we have provided 84 meal packs which provide food for individuals and families.
The response from our two community hubs are echoed by the recently released Emergency Food Projects Lived Experience Survey in Dundee from the Dundee Food Insecurity Network. Across all services similar sentiments were shared. People in Dundee were thankful for emergency food support during the Covid-19 lockdown but also highly valued the connection and conversation with volunteers and community workers.
“At the beginning I was very embarrassed about asking for help, but I know now many people are in the same or worse situation than myself. Getting talking to other people has helped me a lot.” Emergency Food Projects Lived Experience Survey in Dundee respondent.
With ongoing support and funding from the likes of the Investing Communities Fund both Lochee Community Hub and the North East Project endeavour to continue to provide much needed support and connection in communities in Dundee.
*Dundee Food Insecurity Network is made up of Kirkton Community Larder, St Marys Community Larder, Lochee Community Larder, Dundee TheGither, Feeling Strong, Taught by Muhammad Foodbank, The Friary, The Salvation Army, Menzieshill Church, St Lukes Church, St Marys RC Church, The Community Fridge, Lochee Hub, Making Dundee Home, Coldside Community Cupboard, Haven, Dundee Bairns, Parish Nursing & Eagles Wings, Boomerang Community Centre, Rock Solid Community Larder, Fintry Parish Church, Lifegate Church, Link-up Whitfield, Broughty Ferry Foodbank.
Emergency Food Projects Lived Experience Survey in Dundee can be read in full here.