Community groups come together to support Kingston
Representatives from Kingston’s community and public sector organisations have come together to support communities as the pandemic continues to affect people across the borough.
The Communities Task Force, which is made up of representatives of 16 organisations and is facilitated by Kingston Council, highlighted three priorities for immediate action - mental health, combating poverty and supporting and growing volunteering and community action.
Councillor Tim Cobbett, Deputy Leader of Kingston Council said:
“Building on the incredible community response to the first wave of Covid-19, we were keen to help bring community groups and voluntary and statutory groups together. The task force aims to facilitate a collaborative approach to building community resilience and create a network of support throughout the borough to respond to resident needs.
The impacts of the pandemic are many and varied but all have serious implications for communities. Kingston came together, and continues to come together, to meet the ongoing challenges of the pandemic in vibrant and dynamic ways. There have been a number of great community-led programmes that emerged or have been enhanced in response to Covid-19, including food support and distribution, an increase in volunteering, street champions, befriending and creating digital communities.
The aim of the task force is to help keep this sense of community and build on it to collectively support each other, especially those residents who are most vulnerable. We have a focus on identifying and responding to the economic, educational, health and other inequalities resulting from Covid-19 and supporting those communities and residents who have been most affected.”
The work of the task force will also feed into activity to support the Seizing the Moment Report from New Local which was approved at the recent council Response and Recovery Committee. The report outlines a community-focused approach as the borough responds to the impacts of Covid-19.
The task force working groups are:
- Combating Poverty - led by Pippa Mackie, CEO of Citizens Advice Kingston
- Volunteering - led by Michael Green, Volunteer Projects Manager, Groundwork London and Robin Hutchinson, Community Brain
- Mental Health - led by Stephen Bitti, Chief Officer, Healthwatch Kingston
The council has also established an Economic Recovery Task Force working with businesses and employers to help combat the economic impact of Covid-19. The two task forces will work closely to support and complement each other as well as helping shape the future of council services.
The Communities Task Force uses the learning and experiences from the first wave of the pandemic which highlighted local needs and priorities. This includes the work of the Kingston Stronger Together Hub. The hub was created shortly before national lockdown and proactively contacted almost 6,000 shielded residents by telephone to understand whether they required support beyond that provided by their family, friends or other trusted sources. 515 local residents required support; a further 2,267 requests for support were made by residents contacting the hub directly. The range of support provided included food, medicine delivery, befriending, support with emotional wellbeing, health advice, financial and benefit advice, and information on how to access further help and support.
Note to Editors
List of Community Task Force members
Achieving for Children
Citizens’ Advice, Kingston
Kingston Charitable Foundation
Kingston Churches Against Homelessness
Kingston Environment Forum
Kingston Institute of Tamil Culture
Kingston Race and Equalities Council
Kingston Voluntary Action
Korean British Cultural Exchange
SW London CCG