Ipswich Community Media look to support a range of vulnerable people in one of the most deprived wards in the country, and the most deprived wards in Suffolk. Westgate was rated among Suffolk’s most deprived areas last year and has the county’s highest BAME population. It is an area that has been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis from the start, because of its deprivation. The pressure on local families brought by the pandemic has been immense, with many struggling with cramped conditions and isolation during lockdown. Thousands of additional staff and volunteer hours have been engaged in delivering a wide range of support for this group’s most disadvantaged participants including help with emergency accommodation, prescription delivery; translation services and sadly support for Domestic Abuse instances.
The funding that this group has received from Suffolk Community Foundation has helped pay for the IT Support and the huge staff safeguarding effort which goes into supporting their participants through regular phone calls, texts, video conferencing and online lessons. A great digital divide has been exposed by the pandemic and with the Foundation’s help they have been able to loan out over 50 pieces of varying technical kit to keep students learning and able to access services and support. The team at Ipswich Community Media quickly moved the vast majority of their learning and support services online, which has meant they have been able to continue to support hundreds of people in the local community right from the start. The funding also enabled them to be in a position not to have to furlough any staff whatsoever. This decision that the need in the community was so great, made the team at ICM determined to find the funding and resources in order to actually extend the hours of staff and volunteers to meet this.
Particular efforts have also gone into supporting and engaging with the local health services to help local communities to stay safe, understand and adhere to Covid restrictions, provide information on the importance of the vaccine roll out as well as translations for GP and hospital services and signposting to medical help and support. Being able to provide this level of support has made a huge difference to the lives of many of their participants.
Suffolk Community Foundation and everyone who has contributed to the Covid-19 Emergency Fund have been absolutely amazing! We could not have continued with our front line work if this help and support had not been available. We are truly grateful, and so impressed with the way that the Foundation has stepped up to the plate and done it so quickly. There is a positive side to this horrendous situation, and that is of ‘community spirit’ and the can-do attitude of so many in the voluntary sector embody, and which the Foundation has done so much to nurture in these unprecedented times. Everyone in this effort will be able to look back on this time with pride.