In Acton Gardens, local people have joined forces to help their more vulnerable neighbours. Over recent weeks residents across Ealing have responded to the Covid19 crisis in huge numbers by volunteering their time to help their communities. And the Ealing Together coalition has come together to directly help those who need it and to support resident groups who are working to help each other.
Acton Gardens, previously known as the South Acton estate, has been redeveloped over the last decade. Many residents live alongside neighbours who they have known for many years and developed lifelong friendships. Those bonds are now standing the estate in good stead.
After the Covid19 pandemic escalated, local resident Shereen Serry, who has lived on the estate for many years, discovered that the estate did not have a mutual aid group. She quickly set up a Whatsapp group and, within a few days, 150 people had joined.
The group began assisting the Felix Project in distributing essential food parcels to vulnerable residents across the estate. Following government guidance, the local community centre and the council’s Bollo Brook Youth Centre had already had to close, but the staff and young people of Bollo Brook were already hard at work helping with the food parcel distribution.
The project quickly grew and it became apparent that a bigger space was needed so more food parcels could get to those most in need.
Shereen quickly identified the need to have a central distribution hub and point and contacted the London Development Trust. The trust is responsible for the community centre, and its doors are now opened twice a week as a central point for volunteers to collect parcels and distribute them to those in need.
The group accepts donations on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1pm. Donations of food and bags for life should be left just inside the front door and collection can be arranged for larger donations.
They are also asking for a donation of a fridge, fridge freezer or a standalone freezer. Get in touch at email@example.com if you can help.
The food is sorted by the young people from Bollo Brook youth centre, working carefully to respect social distancing rules and distributed to more than 250 people; mainly older residents, single mums on low budgets and those with health conditions.
The youth centre is also coordinating deliveries with Ealing Council’s social services teams and their Trusted Spaces project with a special focus supporting young people at risk.
Shereen and the group have ambitions to go further and are planning a food service with chefs preparing meals in advance for people. They are also in talks with local shops about additional food donations.
“The community has really come together”
Shereen said, “The community has really come together at such a frightening time. We know there are many elderly and vulnerable neighbours amongst us and we want everyone to feel they have someone they can reach out too. Together we can achieve so much.’’
Councillor Peter Mason, cabinet lead for Ealing Together, said: “All over the borough, we are seeing communities, like the one in Acton Gardens, digging deep and pulling out all the stops to support each other and to help the most vulnerable.
“The council is working around the clock, seven days a week to ensure critical services are maintained, hand, along with our Ealing Together partners, we want to support the incredible sense of community solidarity and neighbourliness that is blossoming.
“We are ready to help more people like Shereen who have good ideas that will benefit others during this difficult time. If you need some council help to get your scheme off the ground, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Just as we are proud of the key workers on the NHS front line, in our care homes and our supermarkets, we also feel a great sense of pride and joy in our neighbours, who are stepping forward to volunteer.
“Our message is clear: Support and look out for your friends and neighbours. Our Ealing Together coalition stands ready to help and support you, and together we will ensure no one who needs help goes without it.”