North Ayrshire Council continue to go above and beyond for local people as community teams work together to tackle the challenges of Covid-19.
Answering over 23,400 calls from local residents in need, the Council’s support network of community hubs have been working tirelessly alongside passionate volunteers to meet the demand of assisting residents in Arran, North Coast & Cumbrae, Garnock Valley, Irvine, Kilwinning and the Three Towns.
The hub teams have carried out a record 12,000 hot meal food deliveries and 5,427 prescription drop-offs since lockdown began, while providing advice and signposting to over 2,100 residents to key statutory services.
And last week, the Council reached another major milestone as it delivered its half a millionth meal to those in need.
Most of the meals have come via the Council’s weekly food parcels which are being provided, free of charge, to those in receipt of free schools meals and/or school clothing grant and some of the most vulnerable residents.
Each parcel contains enough food to provide a family of four with lunches for five days. Over 25,000 of these essential food packs have been delivered across North Ayrshire.
The packs are made up of between 75-80% of fresh produce, most of which comes from local suppliers based in Ayrshire and wider Scotland.
In total, the equivalent of 514,856 meals have been provided to households across North Ayrshire in a variety of ways.
In addition to the weekly packs, the Council’s Catering team has also been preparing and serving up meals for children attending the childcare hubs as their parents carry out essential work on the frontline. To date, around 3,000 hot meals have been dished out.
Councillor Jim Montgomerie, Cabinet Member for Place, said: “Delivering over half a million meals is simply incredible and is only possible thanks to the great team spirit that we’ve got going on here in North Ayrshire.
“However, none more so than our tremendous staff without whom none of this would be possible. They have pulled together, often doing things vastly different from their day jobs, to help our communities. Whether that’s Housing staff coordinating the packing of food or Building Services staff ensuring each pack reaches those who need it most, every member of staff from every service has played an invaluable role in our response to the crisis.”
“From local suppliers stepping up to the plate to ensure we have sufficient stock to the local businesses giving donations to help out and the volunteers giving their time to help in our community hubs, everyone’s efforts are invaluable.”
Established at the end of March, the community hubs have continued to support requests from local people in need which include supporting vulnerable residents and those in isolation to access emergency food supplies as well as connecting with people struggling with money worries, social isolation and poor mental health.
The hubs have also supported 60 residents as part of their #perioddignity campaign to stamp out period poverty, helping them to access free period products during the pandemic.
Due to current social distancing guidance, hubs are not open for the public and work on a rota basis to keep to a minimal number of people.
Councillor Louise McPhater, Cabinet Member for Communities, has been volunteering via the Irvine locality hub. She said: “I have experienced first-hand the selfless drive, bravery and determination of everyone involved in this immense community effort.
“Without the help of our dedicated volunteers, we simply could not have reached the record numbers of local people in need this week who are depending on us as a lifeline as we navigate our way through the community challenges of the coronavirus.”
Together with the Council’s Facilities Management teams, the community hubs will continue to work in partnership with North Ayrshire Foodbank to provide food provision to families and vulnerable shielding residents during the pandemic.
With not everyone being eligible for free food packages, the locality hubs are bridging the gap to assist people to get the essential groceries they need where no other help is available.
Councillor McPhater added: “With the continued support of the community hub locality leads, Facilities Management teams, North Ayrshire Foodbank and our network of community partners, I am confident we can continue to play a pivotal role in tackling the difficulties faced by so many during these unprecedented times.
“I would urge anyone else who is willing to help out to get in touch. Whether you’re looking to volunteer from home, supporting us with daily check-in phone calls or helping our team of drivers to deliver essential items, we want to hear from you.”
If you are in an emergency situation and are having trouble accessing food, medicine or supplies, please contact your local community hub. Contact details for can be found here.
If you are not currently volunteering or are part of an already established community group and want to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website http://northayrshire.community/
(Update provided by North Ayrshire Council)