Since Pan Together’s trustees took the swift decision to close Downside Community Centre and the Isobel Café on 17th March 2020 in the wake of the coronavirus emergency, the charity has been supporting vulnerable and isolated people – predominantly within Pan, Pan Meadows and Barton in East Newport – with lifeline support services.
In the 365 days from 18th March 2020 to 17th March 2021, local people have been helped in 3,962 different ways.
Rachel Thomson, Pan Together’s Community Centre Manager, said,
“Looking back, it’s been a challenging but hugely rewarding twelve months. We’ve stepped up to deliver exactly what we’re here to do: we’re making a real difference to local people – young, old and in all their diversity. A year ago feels both like forever since and like no time at all.”
“At times, it’s been truly humbling to see the smiles our lifeline support services have brought to people’s faces on their doorsteps. As one mum told me just this week when she received an ‘overwhelming’ week’s worth of family shopping donated by Asda, ‘It really has made the difference between having and not having’.
“Without the help of our stalwart volunteers plus incredibly generous donations and successful grant applications, we simply couldn’t have done it – and we really do appreciate everyone’s help tremendously. Long may this amazing community spirit continue – funding permitting, of course.”
Isle of Wight Councillor Geoff Brodie, who represents Newport East, said,
“The past year has been a real journey of new experiences for Pan Together’s staff and volunteers. It has allowed it to mature as a charity that works for the interests of local people. I have been very proud to have been associated with all of its work and I thank everyone who has made such excellent contributions.”
Volunteers and staff at Pan Together have:
- from 5th May to 28th August 2020 and again from 11th January to 10th March 2021, prepared and delivered 1,663 no-cost hot meals to local children and young people in real need who weren’t in receipt of free school meals before Lockdowns 1 and 3 but whose families’ circumstances have changed dramatically since with very limited other means of support;
- dished up 1,602 lunches for adults, delivered to their doors (which were halved in price to £2 per meal from 13th April to 28th August 2020 and reduced again to £3 per meal from 11th January 2021);
- done 203 separate rounds of essential shopping;
- collected and delivered 166 prescriptions (many of which were on a multiple basis); and
- supported people on an individual basis in many other ways – including collections of ‘surplus’ government food packages from shielding people during Lockdown 1, weekly deliveries to Newport’s foodbank from mid-April to early August and again before Christmas, laundry services, assistance with rubbish-related issues, banking support, a doorstep home-visit to a bereaved lady at a neighbour’s request, the delivery of Christmas gifts and food hampers to vulnerable people and even one dog walk.
Other services undertaken include acting as a ‘taxi service’ to a vaccination centre, the ‘re-homing’ of an orthopaedic single bed from one local household to another, the pairing of a cleaner with an older gentleman in need of assistance around his home, walks with a particularly vulnerable young man who is too frail and anxious to go out on his own and jigsaw swaps between older ladies from one side of East Newport to another. One of the charity’s regular lunch customers even loaned the Community Centre Manager his people carrier vehicle for deliveries when her car had to go to the garage.
14 carrier bags of ASDA family food have been given to local families as well as a ‘weekly shop’ from ASDA for 13 families in need of support, with each family receiving two banana boxes and two carrier bags on 15th March 2021. In the period from 3rd February 2021, 133 carriers of donated ‘surplus’ sandwiches, giant cookies, apples and crisps have also been distributed to those finding life hard. Thousands of pounds of donated TK Maxx food items have been dished out across the year.
This data doesn’t include the multiple and wide-ranging discussions which have been initiated with officials and professionals in relation to certain particularly vulnerable people’s specific needs in terms, for example, of their deteriorating mental health, their declining physical well-being and/or the unsatisfactory nature of their living conditions – acting as advocates on their behalf.
News shared by Rachel on behalf of Pan Together. Ed