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Meet some of the heroes who will help Suffolk during the coronavirus crisis

PUBLISHED: 06:00 21 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:22 22 March 2020

Ann Osborn and Sally Fogden with the Rural Coffee Caravan Picture: Simon Lee Photography/Suffolk Community Foundation

Ann Osborn and Sally Fogden with the Rural Coffee Caravan Picture: Simon Lee Photography/Suffolk Community Foundation

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A vast network of organisations in Suffolk will provide support and advice to people during the coming months – and here are the views of 10 of them on the challenge ahead.

The Rural Coffee Caravan in Suffolk  Picture: Simon Lee Photography/Suffolk Community FoundationThe Rural Coffee Caravan in Suffolk Picture: Simon Lee Photography/Suffolk Community Foundation

It comes amid renewed calls for people to support the voluntary sector by donating to a fighting fund set up by the Suffolk Community Foundation.

Yesterday, it topped £10,000 just a day after it was launched – but more will be needed during what is set to be a long-term crisis.

The impact of coronavirus is already hitting services hard, with large increases in request for assistance in all key areas – feeding young people, supporting mental health, caring for the increasingly isolated and older members of our society.

Tim Holder, head of public affairs at SCF, said: “We are going to need Suffolk people to step up like never before if we are going to keep up with the enormous demand now and in the coming weeks and months.

The Green Light Trust  Picture: Simon Lee Photography/Suffolk Community FoundationThe Green Light Trust Picture: Simon Lee Photography/Suffolk Community Foundation

“Charities, community groups and volunteers simply cannot do this without your generous support.”

Jo Reeder, head of fundraising and marketing at Age UK Suffolk, said: “With increased demand for our services, we need to make sure that we can give people what they need, whether that be someone to talk to, a delivery of shopping, or vital information to help them with benefits or access to other support that is needed.

“We would like to reassure people that we are here to provide the support and services needed for older people – and we are committed to ensuring we can deliver this countywide to those most in need. If anyone is concerned about how they are going to manage, we would urge them to call our Information & Advice line on 01473 351234 or our Home Help service on 01473 357070.”

To support the fund, visit the website

How will local groups and organisations respond in the weeks ahead?

• Tracy Sharp, Music in Our Bones: Singing reconnects! We urgently need to keep people lifted and united in song, sharing sessions on-line, sending out CD’s and exploring park sings even!

• Teresa Goldson, Disability Advice North East Suffolk: People need our support to access vital benefits whilst avoiding face-to-face contact. We are adapting our service to provide telephone advice, but this takes more time and we need more funding to deliver.

• Geoff Stevens, Pathways Care Farm: It is especially vital at this time to promote positive wellbeing and mental health, working, as we do with the most vulnerable across Suffolk, we are having to find new ways to work and are doing whatever way we can to keep our services available.

• Tom Brown, CEO Green Light Trust: We now need to deliver ways to take the outdoors online to maintain continuity of our vital services to vulnerable adults and young people when they are more isolated than ever and need support to deliver this change. We badly need more funding to support as we continue to adapt.

• Ann Allen, Client Relationship Manager, Reach: Here at Reach we are working hard to support our clients during this difficult time. Our volunteers have been fantastic and we are extremely grateful to the local community who have continued to donate to the foodbank. We are not able to conduct face to face assessments at the present time, but our staff are stepping up even more to offer phone advice and, of course we must continuing to ensure vulnerable clients still have access to the foodbank. We badly need more funding and supplies to meet increased demand.

• James Manning BEM, Secretary/Trustee, Whitton Youth Partnership: Whitton Youth Partnership works with young people in NW Ipswich. These young people will not be at school now and many will therefore be at a loose end, vulnerable and hungry as there may be no free school meals for many. We are following the advice of the National Youth Agency and are looking at ways in which we can still deliver support to our young people online or in carefully managed one to one or two to one scenarios.

We would urge national and local support for our young people as a matter of urgency.

• Ann Osborn, CEO Rural Coffee Caravan/MeetUpMondays: The voluntary sector is so important right now and must survive this crisis! We are on the ground helping our communities find connection in meaningful ways that include everyone. We are perfectly placed to do this at hyperlocal level. It’s so vital that no one is forgotten or left out.

Shez Hopkins, Project Manager Level Two: Vulnerable young people continue to have mental health challenges & these may well increase the longer schools are closed. We aim to extend our mentoring & counselling provision, & support the children still in school.

Simon Glenister, Chief Executive, Noise Solution CIC: 3rd sector organisations such as ourselves are perfectly placed to respond quickly in this fast-changing landscape, funds like this allow those with local knowledge to better focus on solving problems quickly.

Mrs Shayra Begum,BSC Multicultural Services: In addition to our day to support of diverse communities, we are now seriously looking at how to provide emergency food provision, financial support to achieve this is absolutely vital.


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