Before CV19, we had talked about opening the Hub longer and on more days – for the Fridge and for social/learning events and activities. We could/did not quite manage it.
In the most trying of circumstances, with the help of committed volunteers, some from Conniburrow and some from nearby communities, Big Local Conniburrow (BLC) has responded to the crisis in the following ways:
Hello, we’re here to help!
We distributed leaflets to every one of the 1250 households in Conniburrow showing what support is available and how to access it.
We joined FareShareGo which offers us waste food collections on a daily basis.
We collected food, which would otherwise be wasted, from supermarkets. Aldi in Bradwell Common and Buckingham, Tesco in Woburn Sands, Kingston, Oxley Park and Egerton Gate. Estimated minimum saving of 858KGs; equivalent to 2042 meals and CO2 savings of 2,744 KGs.
Actual saving probably 1500KGs; or 3,600 meals and 4,800 KGs of CO2 savings.
We received food, donated by generous people – the Women’s Hope Forum, individual residents, customers at Lidl in Oldbrook, Burney’s Bakery. Thank you all for your generosity and good humour at a difficult time.
Colin, now BLC Chair, developed a safe way to operate the Fridge in the Hub, with ‘customers’ standing on the door step, at least two metres away from the ‘shop assistant.’ We opened the Community Fridge at our Hub seven days per week, 10am-6pm at least, since April 18th. That is six weeks of opening every day for six weeks, a total of more than 350 hours of opening. This was largely Colin on his own at the beginning, and then the other volunteers, including Helen and Sophie have helped run the Fridge. Volunteers have given 450-500 hours of their time to make this happen.
We have given food, safely, to a large number of residents. Daily custom has varied between 9 and 47 people, with an estimated average of 15 per day. This means we have given food to more than 600 people so far. One resident comes and picks up food to deliver to six families every day.
We shared our food stock, when our collections meant we anticipated not being able to distribute all we had, with Fishermead and Great Linford fridges and with Fullers Slade.
We applied for a grant from Neighbourly and received the maximum award of £400. We spent half of that money on food available for food parcels; gave out food parcels to residents in extreme need, i.e. no food at all. We donated £50 to MKCV Community Support Group member who cooks food daily for residents, one on Conniburrow, and £50 to Karl Hanif’s Homelessness Fund.
We delivered food to isolating, shielding or vulnerable residents; arranged Sofea Food Parcels to be delivered by GLPC’s Rangers on a regular basis; collected and delivered cooked food from MK MElting Pot, once per week to five households in Conniburrow.
Small but important other things, we take for granted
Our volunteers collected prescriptions, did people’s shopping, arranged a podiatrist’s visit and delivery of a medical device to a Health Centre.
Making lockdown more bearable and productive
We launched an initiative to get residents to share their Covid pictures. Realising some would have no materials, we made up craft packs and gave them to people.
We ran Cyber Cafes but with little response.
We received more than 70 Easter Eggs from Aldi and distributed these to 25 families. Lots of lovely thank you messages.
We held online Seated Yoga sessions led by Trevor Heale – three times per week to about 8-10 people each time.
We made contact with Clover Hogan, a climate volunteer a who has designed online sessions for young people anxious about our climate. We will run a pilot with her in June. Her website is here https://www.forceofnature.xyz/
We have called or contacted 33 residents regularly to help them feel connected and cared for Geoffrey has made many of these calls as has Claire).
We called our community together to celebrate NHS and key workers every Thursday – what a wonderful, collective din!
Managing our team and the Partnership
Through Community Action: MK, we got details of over 30 volunteers willing to help at the start of the lockdown. Thank you CA: MK.
We have had other people contact us (prompted by the leaflet) and ended up with over 40 volunteers, about 20 are residents of Conniburrow. We have been helped by more than 25 different volunteers. Thank you all so much for your time and effort; your acts of kindness.
We formed an Operations Team to get things organised and actioned. The members are Claire, Geoffrey, Jacqui, Julia, Colin and Robbie.
We communicated regularly via What’sApp, Zoom and email. Colin set up two What’sApp groups which keep us in contact with what’s needed and what’s going on. The Ops Team has two catch-up meetings per week and have held two Zoom Meetings for Partners.
We have tried to record what we’re doing. We haven’t managed to capture every single act of kindness delivered by our volunteers, but have over 300 actions recorded.
And, finally, four stories about our volunteers
Sid has volunteered with BLC for about three years. He’s an active and humorous 82 year-old with a real love of art, puzzles, quizzes and so on. He loves dreaming up ideas to help people socialise and have fun. He had been running a weekly drawing and painting session for residents before the lockdown came.
The photo shows Sid distributing prizes after last year’s Treasure Hunt, one of his ideas.
During the lockdown, Sid has kept himself busy and productive. He’s kept his garden looking pristine. He’s made up quizzes and riddles and devised lessons to keep the children on Conniburrow learning and thinking. He’s been making signs for our Family Fun Day which happens normally in August, but they’ll be ready for use whenever we manage to run it. He’s also been thinking up ideas for other events and activities for when we get back to normal mixing with each other.
But his biggest achievement is how he has progressed his IT skills. He was just starting to learn to use his laptop when we got locked down. Now, with a bit of help from his family, he has managed to get online and take part in video calls. He’s started to use his email and the next challenge is to upload his photos from his digital camera to his computer and send them to his brother in France. Not bad for a man born in 1937, and now living on his own. Well done, Sid, and thank you for always being cheerful when we speak, and for thinking about others and helping them out.
Jackie has done a lot to help during the crisis. She supports one of our vulnerable residents by phone, several times per week, if not on a daily basis, keeping him engaged and connected. She collects donations from supermarkets several times per week, and, as described in the tweet from our Parish Council, decided to take the initiative of sprucing up signs and planters on the estate. Well done, Jackie!
Colin D says he feels BLC has supported him in the past and so is now very happy to think he is able to help us and make a difference for residents in Conniburrow. He has collected food donations regularly, done shopping for people and collected their prescriptions. As anyone who has tried to do this since the lockdown started, will know that this is really quite tricky. Pharmacies tell patients their prescriptions are ready for collection. A volunteer goes and picks them up, takes them to the resident. Then the patient discovers not everything is there. The patient contacts pharmacy who say the meds are now available. So we contact the volunteer and back he goes to the pharmacy. So, well done, Colin, for all you’ve for your community and thak you for your patience!
We want to finsih by focusing on Colin C, who has done more than anyone to support residents in Conniburrow since CV19. He came up with the safe way of operating the Community Fridge, and, almost single-handedly ran it for many days, every day of the week, from 10am-6pm. What an achievement! He has done numerous other things as well, from collecting prescriptions, posting parcels, delivering food for isolating residents. One evening he even took his own dinner to a resident we had suddenly discovered who had not eaten for several days.
His kindness and commitment to his community and his neighbours are immense. And he has done all these things while taking on the Chair’s role and addressing the challenges of managing BLC at a very difficult time. We owe Colin a very great deal and want to recognise and celebrate his contribution.