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Supporting our community in lockdown

John Boyle, Chief Executive, writes:


The COVID-19 outbreak has changed everybody’s lives in the space of weeks.  Plans on hold, friends and family kept apart, and many everyday activities denied to us.  We're worried about our health, and for many there is real economic hardship. At SHAK we have worked hard to transform our programme to contribute as best we can for our community in this time of lockdown.

As you will see from this newsletter, we swiftly set up volunteer support, an advice hotline and we have been getting creative to continue our existing user-facing activities remotely. Most of our existing funding cannot easily be switched for these new programmes, so this week we have launched an Emergency COVID Appeal so that we can continue this work as long as it is necessary. 

Don't forget you can read this newsletter any time on the SHAK website, and there's also a link to subscribe. If you wish to unsubscribe you can use the link at the bottom of this mail.

Helping hands for neighbours



In the first week of lockdown we realised we could play a key role recruiting and co-ordinating volunteers to help their neighbours. We joined with  the Alexandra & Ainsworth Tenants & Residents Association to flyer the whole estate, offering a help number and other sources of support. We also checked in individually with all our members and regulars. 



Now we have fifteen volunteers helping out, with more to come. They can shop for self-isolating households, run essential errands and troubleshoot resident's problems. We have also checked up on isolated people for concerned relatives. So far we’ve helped more than 50 people.  

All volunteers are briefed how to make safe deliveries. People who need help find it easier to trust our volunteers, knowing that a familiar organisation is involved.  

One happy resident said  about our volunteer:  “She was such a kind person.  She got just about everything on my shopping list and she had to carry it home to my flat. I want to thank you and C for being so kind to me.”  


Living and learning together, still 


Sadly, our two venues, the SHELL Centre and ARC look set to remain shut or the foreseeable future. There are some good signs emerging, and we are keeping a close eye on relevant Government advice, but it’s likely that at least as long as schools and other educational venues remain physically shut, so will we. 

For adults, employment and digital skills are as important as ever, and we are adapting our courses to phone, email and online channels for the coming term. The Wellbeing cafe has become a successful Zoom meet-up and participants enjoy showing off their "lockdown cuisine" online. Our older residents social group is sharing jokes and friendship over What’s App. Bingo and other social get-togethers are something to look forward to.


Let's get connected


Lockdown has exposed the digital divide in our society as never before. While many of us are working from home on Zoom, Facetiming our friends and family and teaching our kids with BBC Bitesize, those with no connected devices at home are shut out of vital social contact and access to services and employment.

We're delighted to say that Good Things Foundation responded to our application with ten tablets, and we are distributing them to our service users so they can stay connected. 

With these tablets they can keep learning with us and also stay in touch with friends and family. ur team is offering remote tuition to help them set up their first web calls.

Emergency COVID appeal

It's been heartening to watch everyone pull together to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. We'll look back in amazement on how quickly UK society has re-made itself and the many acts of kindness and generosity that have helped people through. For SHAK, our COVID programme has been an unusual leap into launching new services without first securing funding.  

New and adapted services are costing SHAK around £1500 a week. 

We would like to thank some major funders, like The Big Lottery and Camden Council, for their understanding in allowing us some flexibility at this time.  But most grants to SHAK are tightly tied to specific programmes and we can't re-allocate them.  Soon our window for flexibility will run out.

That's why we are launching an Emergency COVID-19 Appeal for donations to continue this programme.  
 We have mailed some of our most valued friends and supporters in the hope that they may feel able to contribute, something, large or small, so that we can continue this work at the heart of our community in need, for as long as necessary.



Youth services (ARC)

 We can't  forget that lockdown is tough on young people too. Their education is disrupted, and they are cooped up indoors without being able to see their friends. We’ve been running online music, cookery and craft sessions to keep in touch with our ARC community, in ways that complement school timetables. Boris and the youth team is making plans so that as soon as we can start to make the best of ARC and the outdoors again, we will.

See below full list online youth services now available.



People can send us their donations by clicking the donate button on our website here
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