More than 700 households helped by Wokingham Community Hub in past fortnight

Wokingham Community Hub
Volunteers at Wokingham Community Hub Picture: Stewart Turkington

Charities and organisations across the Borough have been working together with the Wokingham Borough Council to form a multi-agency campaign supporting the community during the Coronavirus crisis. 

Over the last two weeks, Citizens Advice have helped more than 700 households through One Front Door, which signposts people in the appropriate direction to get the help they need. 

The organisation offers guidance and support on a range of issues from benefit and employment enquiries to food and prescription requests. 

Jake Morrison, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We are maintaining relationships with the relevant charities and organisations. Our most common requests are for food parcels and over a quarter are for prescriptions. We refer people to the distribution hub and the food banks.” 

“We want to reiterate that we are a safety net for people who need support. We haven’t reached a peak yet with the Coronavirus. Don’t wait till you’re at crisis point, just give us a call.”

Mr Morrison expressed his gratitude on behalf of Citizens Advice, to everyone who has contributed to the joint response: 

“We do want to thank everyone, including The Wokingham Paper who has helped share our message. And to the council for coordinating the response. The efforts have been remarkable.” 

If you need support, contact Citizens Advice on 0300 330 1189 (entering 0118 978 7258 if prompted) Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm. Or visit citizensadvicewokingham.org.uk/coronavirus/ and complete the online form.

Wokingham Volunteer Centre

The Wokingham Volunteer Centre is focusing on helping vulnerable people get their prescriptions from pharmacies. With approximately 55 volunteers across the borough, the organisation is working hard to ensure clients receive their medication as quickly as possible. 

Helena Badger, Volunteer Development Coordinator, said: “We are getting busier with prescription requests, we get around 15 a day. We try and make sure volunteers don’t do more than two prescription deliveries a week, especially because there can be two-hour queues at pharmacies.”

The centre is working together with Wokingham Borough Council and reports that most referrals come from Citizens Advice, with some from the council, The Link Visiting Scheme and others through self-referral. 

Mrs Badger said: “We’re all working well together. We’ve had very positive feedback from clients, who say they are really grateful and from the volunteers, despite the queuing! They know that they’re making a difference to the community. 

“We have a mix of old and new volunteers which is great. We’re hoping going forward people will think more about volunteering, even when everyone’s back to the rat race, that they’ll be able to spare some time in the week to help out.” 

Visit https://wokinghamvolunteercentre.org.uk for updates on specific roles that are needed. 

The Link Visiting Scheme

The charity is currently running a telephone buddy system offering social support and friendship over the phone, and is encouraging anyone who is feeling lonely to give them a call. The charity is experiencing an increase in calls and will need more telephone volunteers in the coming weeks. (DBS checks are required). 

Marjie Walker, manager at Link said: “It has definitely gotten busier this week, across all charities. 

“We don’t want anyone to feel alone or like they’ve been forgotten.”

To refer someone for support or to apply to be a volunteer visit https://www.linkvisiting.org or call 0118 979 8019 (weekdays from 9am-5pm). 

An example of what would go into a Wellbeing Goody Bag

The charity is seeking your help with its new Goody Bags, introduced to help cheer people up. 

The Wellbeing Goody Bags are being put together for vulnerable older people and families who seek support during social isolation. You can support your community by putting together a bag of goodies and treats in supermarket ‘bags for life’. 

Ms Walker said: “This is a treat for people who are shielded, who cannot go out and might be starting to get fed up. People can nominate someone to receive a goody bag by visiting our website.”

Donations can be delivered to the Wokingham Borough Community Hub (in the outside bins at St Crispins Leisure Centre Monday-Friday 9am-4pm). They will then be safely distributed. 

Suggested donations for older people include hand wash, hand cream, puzzle books, jigsaws, magazines, handwritten notes/letters, colouring books/pencils, hamper style goodies and sweet treats. 

And for families: Hamper style goodies, colouring books/pencils, jazzy pens, magazines (adults/children), drawing paper/sketchbooks, sweet treats, puzzle books, educational books, little games e.g. Top Trumps. 

Food distribution Hub 

The Wokingham food-distribution hub has fed more than 600 people over the last two weeks. The community hub, based at St Crispins Leisure Centre, London Road, is taking donations of both fresh and non-perishable food, toiletries and other living essentials and delivering them to people unable to leave their homes.

Staff report they are currently running low on toiletries and laundry detergents, so donations of these would be kindly appreciated. 

Emma Cantrell, founder of children’s charity First Days, who is running the hub said: “It’s been very very busy, we’ve got lots of volunteers, we’ve fed over 600 people.

“Waitrose and Morrisons have been really really generous.”

Ms Cantrell added that those that are able can do their bit to help: 

“Keep looking out for friends and neighbours. We had people last week who needed our help, but have said this week their neighbours have reached out and taken food for them, which is good.”

Donations can be left in boxes outside St Crispins Leisure Centre, Monday-Friday between 9am and 3pm. To contribute financially to the response visit the Justgiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/WokinghamBoroughCV19 

All money raised will go to fund food parcels and any funds left over once the food hub has closed will be distributed to the voluntary sector organisations involved in this combined response. 

For more information and the latest updates visit www.facebook.com/wokinghamcommunityhub 

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