The World on hold – St Luke’s response to Covid-19

On Friday March 20th, the Government announced its directive on social distancing. Unfortunately, this meant that St Luke’s Community Centre had to close to the public. It also meant that we had to ask the majority of our staff to work from home and in that first week, only five members of staff worked from the Centre. We immediately knew that this was going to be a very difficult time for people who come to the Centre, as well as our staff. However, we decided that we would still continue as best we could.

The pressing need was to make sure that we could cook and deliver a meal every day to our older, vulnerable, isolated service users. It was very helpful that our chefs met the challenge head on and our Care team came in every day to deliver the food. During that first week of March 23rd, there was a strange feeling around the Centre. We had no-one coming in to an otherwise bustling Centre.   Everyone agreed that it was a really unusual atmosphere.    

During that first week also, we started to ring people at home to see if they were ok. Everybody really appreciated the contact.  

We were also able to distribute food bags to many of our residents as a result of the generosity of the City Harvest. 

However, we were ‘playing it by ear’ and really did not know what was around the corner. The level of uncertainty was creating huge anxiety for service users, staff and the public at large. 

At the same time, we had a really heartening response from many of our corporate partners. They contacted us assuring us of their support and very soon, food and provisions started to arrive from them for distribution to local people in need. 

Our volunteers contacted us in droves. They very much wanted to support the local initiative. Our committee members offered their time and a number of ex-staff contacted to help out. Because of social distancing, we were only able to use a small fraction of those who made contact.  

Moving into weeks two and three, more staff were able to come to the Centre but we insisted that it was only for those who were essential to delivering our services. However, it was really great to see others come in as we started to get more deliveries of food for distribution to the local community and to six other charities in the Borough.  On Wed, April 1st, we collected one ton of food (2,250 meals!) from the Felix Trust. During that week also, City Harvest, Fare Share and Islington Borough Council also delivered food. We were delighted with our volunteers and staff as they sorted the food, prepared parcels for local families and delivered 80% of the food to other charities in Islington. 

Now, we were becoming more organised and were able to plan more food deliveries, telephone conversations and cooked meals. 

This continues to be a strange time for everyone. Anxiety is common-place as well as fear for the future.  However, it is also a time when we have seen the utmost good in, and, generosity, of people, organisations and businesses. To each one of you, our local residents, our staff, volunteers, corporate partners, funders and Local Authority, we say a heartfelt “Thank You”. In a few weeks’ time, we will come out the other side of this situation and we will experience a different world characterised by people’s generosity and support. 

If you would like to donate to St Luke's to support our work in the community during the Covid 19 emergency please go to our JustGiving page. We really appreciate any donations made at this difficult time.