Just a year after opening centre became vital in bringing the area together
Sorting donations at Acton Gardens Community Centre
Only 12 months after it opened its doors for the first time the Acton Gardens Community Centre has seen the landscape of the estate and the country changing beyond comprehension.
The centre was set up to provide space and collaborate with local organisations and residents to deliver community services. Events ranging from a coach trip to Southend-on-Sea to a Community Winter Fiesta created lasting benefits but circumstances made it impossible to continue this kind of initiative.
While Covid-19 has affected everyone from all social backgrounds, the community and the centre realised quickly that residents from low-income families, particularly the elderly or those suffer underlying health conditions, would be hit hardest.
Neighbours banded together to establish groups through WhatsApp, social media, and leaflet dropping offering support to those who needed it, from cooked meals to dropping off shopping. Organisations like The Felix Project and UACS began to take the pressure off thinly stretched food banks and family services, while residents gave up free time and groups came together to deliver urgent Covid-19.
An emergency food hub was initially established by residents, in partnership with the Bollo Youth Centre and the Acton Gardens Community Centre. As referrals for food bags and hot meals multiplied, the centre offered its premises and kitchen facilities to allow for surplus food and supplies to be provided by the Felix Project and other partners, including the local Morrisons branch. Donations came in from as far away as Hammersmith.
Local catering provider "Crystal's Supper Club", joined the team and has been cooking hundreds of hot meals with local volunteers' help working with organisers and local resident volunteer groups to swiftly deliver to the doorsteps of Acton Gardens residents.
The pandemic has created extreme pressure on the mental health of many Acton residents. These challenging times can be particularly hard on children, with their routines suddenly changed, and interaction with school friends denied, causing understandable anxiety. Art therapy reduces stress, helps develop coping strategies, and encourages self-expression, which is particularly crucial.
Volunteers at the centre have been able to identify pupils from the community in particular need. With funding provided by Countryside and MHDT London, free art packs and educational worksheets have been delivered across the estate. The centre hopes to share the art created by setting up an online gallery for the community to enjoy during and after lockdown.
Mental strain reaches far beyond young households. Loneliness felt by the elderly and families separated from loved ones, and for those with limited access to the internet and phones these times have been very harrowing. The absence of activities these individuals once attended, such as dance classes with Elevate Arts UK and ballet, can be even more isolating.
To combat this, Countryside and MHDT London have supplied free tablets, to enable contact with loved ones, and experience enjoyment from participating in these classes now that they are available online.
Acton Gardens Community Centre in partnership with Countryside, MHDT London, and other local organisations/groups such as the Bollo Youth Centre and Acton Food distribution service say they have been very fortunate to be able to support a resilient and compassionate community at this time of crisis.
They have been able to achieve a lot by relying on a committed number of volunteers over the last few months. If you want to help out you are encouraged to register with them by emailing email@example.com.
June 17, 2020