Communities Week 2020 – Celebrating Community Action


To celebrate Communities Week 2020, the organisations behind My Community came together to highlight and amplify the work of the community groups and local businesses that form the backbone and heartbeat of our neighbourhoods.

Throughout 2020 we have been blown away by the community action taking place in response to COVID-19. We have heard countless stories of people working together to help keep each other safe and look after those most affected.

Communities Week gave us a chance to recognise those charities, groups and volunteers that go the extra mile in supporting those in need. We’d like to shine a light on some of the incredible things that community groups have done in response to COVID-19. Here are just a few of our favourite community responses from recent months.

FUSE Youth Project

The FUSE Youth Project aims to teach young people life skills through the use of cooking, creative art, group discussions around youth centred topics and team sports. ​They also take young people on exciting offsite trips to encourage them to explore and get to know the world outside of their estate.  

This summer they have been working to ensure that young people living in West Hendon did not miss out on being able to have a fun and active summer. 

They decided to create an online platform where children could meet with their friends and experienced youth workers to talk about their feelings and play games. They also gave all young people the space to meet outside on their local green and get involved in non contact sports.

“What was most important to us was to make sure that no young people in the area were left hungry during the holidays, so each day in the afternoon all young people were able to collect a take away meal from the hub at no cost to them. The meals which the young people had access to were nutritious and suitable for all dietary needs.”

In the last week of the summer, all young people involved in the summer programme were given the opportunity to take part in different off site trips which included; Brent Cross beach, Kayaking and Stand up paddle boarding.

Visit FUSE’s Semble project page to read more about how they have been supporting local young people during lockdown. You can find out more about their work on their website.

The Little Edi Foundation

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Foundation’s activities have adapted to respond to the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people in communities across Essex. “Owing to our grassroots commitments, we have been able to identify and support the households who are most at risk and vulnerable. By working closely within our local communities we have earned their trust and respect to provide invaluable assistance in a crisis.”The Little Edi Foundation is an Essex based non-profit helping children in the UK and in the poorest regions of Europe.

Their COVID-19 Community Relief Programme responds to the following urgent needs: 

  • Families facing hunger as a result of: loss of employment, reduced income, difficulty obtaining government benefits, lack of supplies at local food bank. 
  • Children suffering from poor hygiene and living in unclean households as parents/carers are unable to afford hygiene and sanitary products. 
  • Children unable to carry out their school work as they can’t afford stationery supplies and don’t have the necessary technology to access and print workbooks. 
  • Parents/carers experiencing confusion and anxiety over government advice. 
  • Loneliness amongst the local elderly, particularly in care homes as they are unable to have visitors.

To meet this need they have been:

  • Supplying and distributing food parcels, hygiene packs, school supplies and activity books.
  • Supporting local food banks by donating food, hygiene packs and clothing.
  • A one-stop-shop for parents and carers in need of guidance and reassurance.
  • Shopping for essential items and medication for those who are unable to or have difficulty leaving their homes.
  • Writing weekly letters to local elderly care home residents.
  • Gardening for local elderly residents. 

To find out more about the great work the Little Edi Foundation is doing, visit their Semble project page here or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Oak Grove Family Support

Oak Grove Family Support is a project run by Oak Grove Community Church to support families facing adversity in North Norwich.

Their Kids Matter parenting programme helps families with children between 0-10 years of age and helps build parental confidence and self esteem. The support includes providing practical parenting skills, a peer support network and ongoing personal support from our Family Support Worker.

In response to Covid-19 they have been delivering care packages to the families that have been through the Kids Matter programme. These packages include basic food items, some treats and some craft activities for the families. These have been invaluable to the families who have been even more isolated due to Covid 19 and by being at home all the time, the specific issue they were already facing in the normal struggles of family life and parenting have been amplified.

In addition to this, they have launched a telephone befriending scheme, Two’s Company, to go alongside their other support programmes. This is open to anyone over the age of 18 and enables their trained volunteers to support those most isolated in the local area.

To read more about how Oak Grove is helping local families, check out their Semble project page and their Facebook page.

Third Age Project

“Our community has been hit very hard by the Covid-19 Pandemic and in particular those having to be shielded and seen as extremely vulnerable due to frailty, poor health and living alone often far from family and relatives.” The Third Age Project is an inclusive, energetic and multi-cultural older people’s self-help grassroots charity. They believe that older people should be placed at the very heart of a community and be seen as an important resource of knowledge.

In response Third Age launched a range of new services to help local people, including:

  • Telephone befriending and support
  • Telephone Friendship Small Groups
  • Signposting and troubleshooting including making referrals
  • Troubleshooting IT issues (doorstep and over the phone)
  • Weekly online interactive newsletters
  • Supporting WhatsApp groups in 5 different home languages with volunteer interpreters
  • Regular printed newsletters to those not online and upon request
  • Home deliveries of shopping and essential supplies (to self-isolating households)
  • Emergency Food Bank (open to residents of all ages including extended families)

You can read more about how Third Age have been supporting the local community on their Semble project page and by following them on Twitter.

Loughborough Community Centre 

Loughborough Community Centre (LCC) is a small charity that was established in 1981, by the residents of Loughborough Estate in Brixton, London. 

“We exist to give our local community a safe space to come together, learn and grow to alleviate the effects of poverty for families within the most deprived ward in Lambeth (Coldharbour) at the Max Roach Centre. From very young tots to the ripe old age of (we wont ask!), we have activities for all members of the community.”

During lockdown their Happy Lunch & Play Project has provided over 6,000 lunches to local children. The project was mentioned by the Mayor of London in a recent Cosmopolitan Magazine article (24/04/2020) as “a shining example of what can happen when the community works together.”

Find out more about Loughborough Community Centre by visiting their Semble project page and their website

Bradford PHAB Covid 19 Response

PHAB inspires and supports children, young people and adults with and without disabilities to make more of life together – breaking down barriers, reducing social isolation, and creating opportunities for disabled people. There are around 140 PHAB Clubs across England and Wales. 

During this year, Bradford PHAB has been working non stop to help local families. “Our main aim of focus is to support our already vulnerable members to help them put food on the table, stop isolation and provide the support and assistance needed at a very difficult and uncertain time. We may not have lots of money but what we do have is that community spirit needed right now to try and lift our members spirits and keep them mentally and physically well as best we can.”

During lock down the club started a food delivery service twice a week for vulnerable families. “The feedback so far has been brilliant with everyone being so appreciative during these uncertain and unprecedented times.”

In addition, they have been delivering a range of online activities via Zoom to keep people connected and reduce isolation. “The response has been amazing with so many families joining in with our Bingo, Quizes, Exercise and silly games sessions.”

Bradford PHAB’s Chair, Akbar Khan, was recently selected for England’s Lionhearts, an initiative to celebrate inspirational individuals who have done amazing things for their communities.

Read more about Bradford PHAB’s work on their Semble project page and on their Facebook page.

My Community – a hub of free information and support

In May, Semble launched My Community alongside 11 leading community sector organisations to help make change happen from the grassroots up.

My Community is a hub of free tools, tips and ideas helping local people to act on the issues they care about – turning great ideas into positive community action. The site brings together so much wisdom, knowledge and support in one place – we’re proud to be part of such a rich and useful resource for community change.

If you are one of the brilliant people working behind the scenes at a community group, or need a hand making your community ideas a reality, make sure to check out the My Community website and get your hands on some brilliant FREE tools, information and support to grow your project.

About the Author:

Keir is a project officer based in Semble's Bristol office. Most of his time is spent on two of our movement campaigns, Outdoor Classroom Day and Backyard Nature. One of Keir’s main interests is food equality and outside of Semble he runs a small community food waste project.