Times are tough, yet there are thousands of neighbours, community champions, organisations and businesses that are pulling out all the stops to help those in greatest need.
We feel it is time to spread some good news and share some of the stories that seem under-represented in the media. Maybe you have personal experience of companies, charities or individuals who have made things a little easier. We are going to start with a focus on our home town of Aylesbury.
Generous Donation of Half Term Meals
Throughout term time, many children from low-income families receive a free school meal. Aware of the particular financial strain that Covid-19 has put many families under, footballer Marcus Rashford successfully campaigned to extend this provision over the Summer Holidays. Unfortunately, MPs voted against his request to cover the October Half Term.
Although the hospitality industry has been hit hard this year, cafes and restaurants across the country stepped up to offer support through half term week. They know that their customers and people in their community are struggling and they wanted to avoid children going hungry.
In Aylesbury alone, we know of 8 food retailers who provided free meals for children:
Free Online Courses and Training
Joe Wicks wasn’t the only person to offer free online activity sessions during lockdown.
Aylesbury is the birthplace of the Paralympics and Wheelpower is the local charity that continues this legacy of all-ability sport. Through lockdown, their team have provided online wheelchair workout sessions, with activities aimed at children during half term. These can be viewed on the Wheelpower Facebook Page.
Small Aylesbury businesses like Sarah Lou Yoga have also posted regular workout sessions that enable people to join in from their own home.
Through November, Buckinghamshire Adult Learning is offering free online courses around the theme of ‘Keeping Well during Covid-19’. The short courses are ‘Healthy Eating’, ‘Physical Activity’ and ‘Managing Stress & Anxiety’. Local residents can call 01296 383583 for further information or to book a place.
Volunteers Keep Food Banks Running
Unfortunately, the need for food banks has been steadily increasing over recent years and it is no surprise that there has been a significant peak through 2020. Dedicated teams of volunteers turn up every week to stock, pack and distribute donations. Aylesbury Foodbank, Aylesbury Vineyard Storehouse and Bridge the Gap (run by Southcourt Baptist Church) have made a huge difference to vulnerable families in our town.
Safely Bringing the Community Together
Last week, a teenager and her dad were recognised as ‘Community Stars’ by Aylesbury Mayor. Prompted to make a difference in the community, Abigail and Richard Walker set up Aylesbury Wombles. Not only did they commit to weekly litter picks, but they also inspired others to get involved. Anyone can join in and in this year of isolation, it has been a brilliant way to support good mental health; it brings people together, gets individuals outdoors and active, and offers a sense of purpose and achievement.
With over 100 picks under their belt, the whole town has benefitted from their efforts, with thousands of bags of rubbish removed from our streets and parks.
Holy Cow Home! has organised an annual Diwali Festival of Lights in the town for several years. Whilst the usual showcase of dance, music, food and light cannot be celebrated in the same way this year, organiser Poonam was keen to bring people together virtually.
Although Holy Cow Home! Has had to close its doors for lockdown, there are opportunities for all to learn about henna painting, chai tea, meditation and yogic breathing through online sessions. That could help us all feel more connected, as well as helping to lower stress and anxiety.
Spread the Good News
These are just a few of the amazing good news stories. People in every town are helping and supporting others. Sometimes the smallest of gestures make a big difference. What fantastic examples have you got of organisations and individuals who are helping those in a position of vulnerability?