An Update From Paul About Our Work in the Community

Recently Paul joined an online gathering with Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire and shared about what Emmanuel and Cafe Emm have been up to during time of pandemic. Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire is a wonderful force for good in the county gathering together volunteer organisations and seeking to help them make the best impression they can in their field. It’s great for us to partner with them.

We thought it would be good for you to be able to read Paul’s notes from his presentation so that you can be fully aware of what he, and we, have been up to over these last few months. Please do pray for Paul and his work, as well as the work of the staff and volunteers he works alongside.

Emmanuel Group – Paul Foster

Send and email to Paul Foster

Who am I, what did I do?

Community Worker from Emmanuel Church based at Weston Favell Centre on Northampton East.

Just some things I do at the minute. I run a weekly drop-in at Brookside community centre, a fortnightly board games café, help at our foodbank.

I run FISH, which stands for Food and Fun In School Holidays. It provides a lunch and entertainment for children and families in Blackthorn School, more recently in Brookside Community Centre. It runs one lunchtime each week of the school holidays. Our volunteers from our church and beyond, regularly serve 100 people each time.

We were also due to launch a debt centre at end of March, providing much needed financial support to our foodbank clients and elsewhere.

What happened after the lockdown?

As you can imagine everything I did had to stop. Most things were easy to cancel, but I really struggled with my heart to cancel FISH but was reassured by the schools and other local children services that they should be ok when it comes to being fed whilst schools were closed.

Thankfully I am classed as a keyworker and didn’t get furloughed, otherwise I wouldn’t have been around to start the new things I was involved in setting up.

Café Emm is our café at Emmanuel, it offers low cost, excellent quality food to guests – little plug for when it is open!! A lot of the customers are over elderly, disabled or lonely, so we asked around a few of the regulars if they would be interested in hot meals being delivered to their home, they all said yes. Initially we charged for the service, which was the same price as what they would have paid, but we got some COVID-19 funding and were allowed to deliver food free.

We deliver food two days a week, with a team of volunteers who were either furloughed, or the groups they went to, were stopped. The deliveries have been well received by those who receive them, and it has been nice to have a little conversation with them, even if it was short, we know they appreciated the chat…

Our foodbank operates normally on a Monday afternoon or Wednesday morning. We have been getting busier during the months building up to the lockdown, we assumed it would get busier, and we were proved right. We realised a lot of our clients would be at home through self-isolating or shielding, and we needed to find a way to be able to deliver parcels to these people.

One of the good things about people being furloughed is that they are often younger and have cars! We put an appeal out to people, who might be able with a delivery service, which we would be starting on Friday afternoons. We have about 10 people who offered their services to drive, we also have some staff from the cobblers helping shifting things around as well. Helps when our vicar is chaplain to the cobblers!!

Weston Favell Centre kindly let us operate the foodbank in one of their units at a mate’s rate. We are very lucky, because the unit is one of the larger ones and have lots of storage, but it is on two floors, and makes the logistics of moving parcels from one floor to the loading bay a challenge, but grateful for these younger more mobile people, who make it look easier.

When delivering the parcels, like the coffee shop deliveries, not only are they grateful for the food parcel, but for the opportunity to have a short talk with someone, they say, we are the only people they see during the week.

We initially started with about 30 being delivered and have been reaching about 65 parcels now.

We started exploring ways of helping those isolated during this lockdown time, and someone mentioned Happy@Home, so I’ve been speaking with Debbie about a way forward which works well for all. Happy@Home contact: send an email to Debbie Larkins at VIN

Also, I am still receiving more training for the debt centre online and will be helping with training the team, so we are in a position to help people with their finances. The new is going to be quite a challenge, and we want to be ready to help in whatever way we can.

So, that is me, thank for listening and hope you have found it interesting of what is happening in our community.

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