Working in a pandemic

Today I wanted to share my experiences of working through the pandemic and running a community project. To start with it has been an honour and a privilege to support our fellow humans. As a keyworker, I have been able to do this.

We started our community project in May 2019, offering groups to vulnerable people. However, as Covid struck, this wasn;t possible and we reinvented ourselves. This began as an experiment with a rusty clothes rail and has proven to be very worthwhile, with possibly over 2000 people helped, directley and indirectly.

One lovely man comes and takes things for his neighbours and friends; curtains to put over doors, towels and even plates. Another person has said how invaluable our service has been. A homeless man came yesterday and walked out looiking really smart in a lovely new coat. We have been able to help people look and feel fgood about themselves, redistributiung unwanted goods and saving waste too.

Recycling is very close to my heart and we try to throw away as little as possible. Stained clothing may be washed and I have only ever thrown away one item which seemed to have blood on it which I felt warranted a bin. Even broken toys find new homes-one child happily took a push along toy missing a wheel. We are so often about ythe new and perfect and perhaps we just need to be a little more open to reusing slighly damaged things and upcycling. It is a new way of life and a new way of thinking. We even have people take second hand glasses which was a huge surprise to me!

People don’t just come for clothes; they like a chat and feeling part of a community. We meet outside and people can choose how much or little they want to take. This gives dignity. It is essentially a free charity shop model. People are struggling on Universal Credit and it means they can givce their families nice clothes and shoes and toys and bedding.

I feel that clothing banks are very much needed at this time. People in the UK are really battling poverty, but they don’t wear a badge to announce it (and why should they?)

Let me have your thoughts regarding this and please feel free to disagree. I am interested in people’s views from other nations in regard to this.

Thank you for reading. I wish you all a wonderful weekend X

January Reflection

You may have noticed a change with the blog-well there has been one. I completed my adventure into hope so the recipes will be there, but this year I will be taking a different stance. Following the suggestion of Writing Presence who writes an excellent blog, I am going to write twelve reflections, for the twelve months of the year.

Today’s is about how my local community is rippling out kindness to one another. I live in Thanet, one of the most deprived communities in the South East, with high levels of unemployment, many suffering from physical disability or mental health issues. Things here are on paper, pretty grim.

Add to that and what do you get? In actual fact, the opposite from what you would imagine. People helping one another. I am part of an online Facebook community called The Clothes/Shoes Helpline and this is where people need items and other people give. So someone might need nappies and another person has spare, so they give them. It is a give and take process. An exchange of kindness.

I run a clothing bank which is also a befriending service. Maslow’s hierachy of needs is very interesting here. Maslow states that the most fundamental human need is food, water, warmth and rest.

See the source image

Sadly many people do not have enough food. Their physiological needs are unmet. With the pandemic, if basic needs are not met, then people are much more likely to catch Covid. Perhaps meeting these basic needs will help in the fight against it.

In order to self-actualise, many steps need to be climbed. And so food banks are vital, as are clothes banks. Many people on universal credit cannot afford to heat their homes, so basic necessities such as bedding, shoes and warm clothes are beyond theie meagre means. If something breaks down, it is likely the choice will be made to do without.

Thus many families in today’s Britain have no decent bedding, shoes with holes in and children without a warm coat. In my view, every town now needs a food bank and a clothes bank too.

redistribution of unwanted good is becoming a necessity. Let’s recycle unwanted items to charities, rather than chuck them. Or put things outside to be taken away. A small clothes rail with free clothes on it may really help someone. You could put a note saying please only touch what you take.

Just a few thoughts. So much is written about saving our planet. Perhaps we could be creative with recycling and far less would go to landfill.

References

maslow’s hierarchy of needs – Bing images (accessed 20/01/01).

The Clothed with dignity project

Today I wanted to share a bit more about instilling hopein those who face hopeless situations. There are many facing trauma; loss, financial ruin, loss of income, in these days. Those of us with paid employment are extremely fortunate. And many are not.

I have been working with the Margate Independent foodbank for some time and have set up a clothing and shoe bank. I looked back at some photos of the items laid out on the tables recently and they have all gone. Which shows the demand. Yesterday a man who has no permanent home wandered in through the open door and spotted a lovely jacket, with the label on, which he then took. He also asked for some trainers and I explained the pair he wanted had gone ( I gave him an alternative pair). Items whisk off our rails and tables.

But it isn’t about clothes. And I am beginning to understand that the answer to homelessness isn’t about a home. Yes that is extremely important. But yesterday, when I saw two of our guests with their lovely clothing, it dawned on me that people with no homes like to look nice. They like nice clothes, just like the rest of us. Clothing gives us self=respect and furthermore an identity.

So the clothing bank is giving people dignity, which leads to a restoration of hope. I feel that we need to not compartmentalise things; people are whole people and we need to take a holistic view of homelessness, not a superficial approach. There are many wonderful organisations out there tackling this issue, but this is an interesting angle I haven’t particularly thought of previously. Obviously, people need nutritious food also and that is where the food bank come in (one gentleman told me of this lovely meal he had eaten which he didn’t want to finish). But clothes help people to look smart and make us all feel nice.

Today’s recipe of hope is to support any local initiatives offering help to those in need. It may be your local foodbank (one tin of beans is appreciated), or giving a cash donation of any amount. And if you are in need, take the help, because it is there for you. Don’t feel you aren’t worthy. I know some of us struggle to receive, but there are times we need to do so.

Bless all those of you working with others to help at this tough time X