Shops and people in Brixton Village

COVID-19 Multiple long-term conditions

Neighbourhoods are key in responding to COVID-19

3 August 2020
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3 min read

The coronavirus pandemic has affected many Londoner’s work, family, health and personal lives. For many, this has meant a turn to community, to the local area – and to neighbourhoods.

The rise of ‘local’ during the coronavirus

We have seen the growth of mutual aid groups to provide support within communities. These groups have shown how local action can help people who are social distancing, shielding or at risk.

Supporting hyper-local approaches is a key part of combatting health inequalities. And if you have a long-term health condition, where you live can even influence how your health progresses.

 

Working in neighbourhoods to improve health

In our multiple long-term conditions programme, we run many projects in small areas. By layering up different approaches in hyper-local contexts, we can have a greater impact on an area.

Our neighbourhood schemes are central to this. Working with organisations already in these neighbourhoods, we can build on local knowledge. And with this access to local places and people, it’s easier to connect everyone to the shared goal of better health.

COVID-19 in South London

On the ground in Lambeth and Southwark

Emergency food distribution

In Walworth, our partners Pembroke House moved fast to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. They transformed their community space into an emergency food distribution centre. To date, they have cycled over 16,000km to deliver 35 tonnes of food and essential supplies to over 1,500 residents. 

 

Supporting the Portuguese community

The Lambeth Portuguese Wellbeing Partnership works to support the Portuguese community in Lambeth. They found that the language barrier and lack of knowledge of local support services excluded people from getting help. 

In response, they set up a free helpline staffed by 16 Portuguese-speaking volunteers. Together, they have organised over 100 essential deliveries of food, liaised with GPs and made friendship calls to Portuguese speakers isolated during the pandemic.

“We knew that the pandemic would impact the Portuguese-speaking community in Lambeth. Inequality, unemployment, domestic abuse, lack of access to services, fluency with English or IT illiteracy were the factors that made us put together a group of volunteers to support the community in just a couple of weeks.”

Maria van Zeller, Volunteers Coordinator at the Lambeth Portuguese Wellbeing Partnership

 

New ways of working

During the pandemic, establishing new ways of working became the norm for many. With the Stockwell Forum, we’re working to identify how local organisations can learn from this. As one example, having mental health services work with community groups can ensure people can get the support they need in a place that’s close to them.

 

Getting IT equipment to housing estates

Finally, we are funding our partners in Tulse Hill, High Trees Community Development Trust, to provide remote advice, wellbeing check-ins and loans of IT equipment. They are supporting over 200 working-age adults in three housing estates who sought employment, education or housing support before the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

What’s next for our neighbourhood schemes?

The neighbourhood you live in matters. This is why we invest in our target neighbourhoods to improve the social infrastructure where people live.

By March 2021, we plan to have established up to five neighbourhood schemes in Lambeth and Southwark. We’ll support organisations to make their communities healthier for people at risk of developing multiple long-term health conditions.