The Teesdale Community Resources Hub, in Barnard Castle, had planned to deliver hot meals from their café facilities throughout the pandemic, but with staff forced to self-isolate, they instead turned their efforts to making hampers for those in need.
From delivering nine hampers in the first week, they are now delivering more than 75 each week as word has spread, often to families in dire straits.
CEO Rachel Tweddle explained: “‘We thought of a plan but after more restrictions and volunteers lost it became clear very quickly that this wasn’t going to work, so we had to react and think what we could do. We came up with the idea to deliver care packages and Morrisons made us one of their nominated charity for food.
“We got a phone call last Friday from a lady who had no access to the internet for shopping and no friends or family nearby. She had called all of the supermarkets in the local area and nobody was able to help. Eventually she was advised to call us. Her husband has cancer and she is isolating for 12 weeks and unable to go to the shops and buy food. On the Monday a volunteer delivered her food package to the door and she cried with joy that someone was willing to help her. We will continue to deliver to this lady on a weekly basis. Sadly, there are many more people in a similar situation across Teesdale and we must find a way to help them.”
The TCR Hub was awarded £4,680 by County Durham Community Foundation’s emergency coronavirus fund to support the elderly and isolated through the government lockdown. The National Emergency Trust Coronavirus appeal has so far given out £12.5million to community foundations around the country to be distributed to groups offering emergency help, including £100,000 to County Durham. The Foundation has also started its own appeal, which has raised almost £123,000 to support community groups who are rallying to offer help.
Rachel added: “The local community have responded really well. We have new volunteers on board who are without work and want to help give something back. We have also seen local businesses who we previously had no relationship with wanting to support us and we’ve also made new links with charities that we hope will continue.
“It’s hard work but seeing the immediate difference these packages make is very worthwhile and I hope we can continue to help people in Barnard Castle over the next few weeks.”