Supporting The Vulnerable

COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the charity sector’s ability to operate. However, at the same time, charities have experienced an increase in demand due to the impact of the pandemic on the vulnerable.

The second event in our online Alumni Lecture Series, COVID – Stories from the Frontline, will take place on 22 April at 18.30 (UK time) and will focus on COVID’s social impact.

Join us as we look at the challenges faced by three organisations in the fight against the pandemic, from putting food on the table for those in need, to supporting the homeless and bereaved families suffering loss.

This event will be chaired by University of Reading Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Van de Noort, who will be joined by Reading alumni Alison Peyton, Food Bank Manager, ReadiFood; Kirsti Wilson, Head of Marketing and Fundraising, Launchpad; and Peter Norman, Volunteer, Cruse Bereavement Care.

CONNECTED spoke to Alison, Kirsti and Peter ahead of this event to find out more about how they’ve been supporting the vulnerable.

Putting food on the table

Alison locked the doors to ReadiFood on the evening of 20 March 2020 as the first lockdown began, not knowing when she would be able to open them again.

She said: “In the week leading up to lockdown there was a lot of uncertainty and people were panic-buying food. We went the extra mile that week to deliver food to people who were expecting help.

“We doubled our number of parcels – providing a total of 430 food parcels that week. Our volunteers were determined to get these deliveries out, worried as to how our clients would cope if we couldn’t.”

However, within 48 hours of locking the door, foodbanks were deemed essential services. Alison explained: “We saw a clear increase in people needing our help during 2020: demand in March was up by 60%, April by 30%, May by 53% and June by 30.5%.”

Read more about how ReadiFood provided an essential lifeline to local residents throughout lockdown, and how they overcame challenges as they endeavoured to support the vulnerable.

Supporting the homeless

Kirsti shares how Launchpad – Reading’s leading homelessness prevention charity – has remained open during the pandemic, providing vital information and support to people at risk of losing their home and to the homeless.

She said: “The offices at Launchpad have never shut, providing a service throughout the pandemic to ensure that people at risk of losing their homes or those who are homeless, have the support they need.

“We have an amazing team who have worked tirelessly to ensure our existing clients are supported, whilst also providing help and guidance to vulnerable people being treated unlawfully by landlords or housing associations during the pandemic; and assessing and placing rough sleepers, and those in housing need, in Launchpad accommodation.

“Unfortunately, as furlough and the eviction ban end, we predict demand for our services will only increase over the next few months.”

Read more about how Launchpad has kept its fundraising activities going during the pandemic with the Big Sleep Out at home.

A lifetime’s dedication

Peter shares his admiration for how Cruse Bereavement Care has supported people during the pandemic – at a time when their services are needed now more than ever. He said:

“Cruse is a voluntary agency with the vision that all bereaved people should have somewhere to turn when someone dies.”

He explains how Cruse has remained operational throughout the pandemic by adapting and providing remote support, and talks about the charity seeing an increased need for bereavement services.

Read more about how Peter and Cruse’s roles have evolved during the pandemic to ensure they could keep helping the vulnerable.

Register your place at the Alumni Lecture on 22 April.