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Tenants, charities and companies join aid taskforce in Somers Town

Lend Lease and Francis Crick Institute work with charities and local residents

22 March, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

A JOINT taskforce of charities, community associations and institutes are gearing up to help people in Somers Town and Regent’s Park as the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus escalates.

The alliance co-ordinating action includes The Living Centre, The Crick Institute, Global Generation, The Ossulston Tenants and Residents Association, Phoenix Court, Central St Martins and construction firm Lend Lease.

The teams are running their operation from the Somers Town Community Association headquarters in Ossulston Street and The Living Centre, attached to the Crick Institute, to use as bases.

Founder of charity Life After Hummus, a Community Benefit Society, Farah Rainfly said collaboration between a number of agencies and associations was crucial to ensure help could be targeted to where it is most needed.

Ms Rainfly said their first step, which they have been preparing since last Sunday, was to set up an infrastructure to identify peoples requirements and create a database that can make sure help is aimed exactly where it is needed.

Building firm Lend Lease have asked their employees to design an on line system they can all use so no one falls through the safety net.

As well as people who are older or vulnerable who may have previously been known to community groups, the plan is to also allow those facing hardship to self-refer.

Many workers fear losing their livelihoods, and the groups will be able to help with advice regarding accessing Universal Credit and other benefits, and provide supplies while they wait the two weeks for the first government payment to be made.

Because of travel restrictions and the need to keep people’s movement to a minimum, the project will run its aid solely within three wards in an attempt to avoid adding to the spread of the disease.

Covering housing in St Pancras, Somers Town and Regents Park, their sphere has both many older people and young families.

She said: “We are drawing up a list of people most at risk between us. We are looking what the needs might be: do they need food? When will they need it? What other help do they need? What advice can we help them access?”

At the Somers Town Community Association’s base in Ossulston Street, volunteers are working flat out to prepare for the coming weeks.

Ms Rainfly added: “We have had extra fridges delivered, extra hobs, and four non contact forehead thermometers to use to screen volunteers.”

Food is being delivered for them to cook and distribute by charity the Felix Project.

Ms Rainfly added: “We really need donations of grains, pulses, wheat, rice, whatever can get our hands on.”

By the weekend, the Association plan to have its blueprint of best practice for other community groups to use, sharing it on their website and Facebook pages for others to copy. It includes how to make sure all volunteers are properly vetted before they start working.  Background checks are required for anyone making deliveries to people in need.

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