Blackburn Rovers Community Trust’s Events and Fundraising Officer, Jess Clegg, says that although it is a challenging time for everyone, she is proud of the work that is being done in communities.
After having to cancel their sleep-out event this weekend due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Trust have ensured that the Blackburn Foodbank has still been able to carry out its duties, despite having to close its doors to the general public.
She said: “One of the main things we have been doing is working with the Blackburn Foodbank; we had a sleep-out event planned for this weekend and the proceeds from that would have gone to them, but with the current situation we have had to postpone that event.
“One of my first thoughts when the coronavirus became more prevalent was ‘how would the Foodbank cope with what is going on?’, so I got in touch with them and they really welcomed our support. We went in and packed the bags, trying to get ahead of the game a bit so they were ready to give out parcels straight away.
“Last week they had to close their doors to the general public, so we came up with a bit of a plan to do a delivery service. We had two minibuses from the Community Trust go out and deliver all the food parcels to the referrals that were coming in.”
With the Government’s advice ringing firmly in Jess’ ears, she has been extra careful when out and about, making sure that her team have the correct equipment that they need to carry out their tasks, such as hand sanitiser.
She added: “We have been doing a lot and making sure that we are sticking to the guidelines; obviously using the hand sanitisers, spreading ourselves in a decent space around the minibus and, until we get told any different, we are going to continue what we are doing.
“We have such a huge responsibility, really, because there is such a huge service in Blackburn and, without our support, I don’t think the Foodbank would have been able to get the packages out to those people who really rely on them.
“Our support has not stopped there, though, as we have offered help to anyone of our participants that might need any help getting out and about, mainly to get them some essentials like shopping and toiletries, so it has been really full-on for us over the past couple of weeks.
It was confirmed very early on that vulnerable adults over a certain age would have to stay at home to protect themselves from the virus, meaning that some of the Rovers Community Trust schemes would have to be cancelled, but the participants would not be forgotten, with staff members from the Trust getting on the phone to make sure they know that they were not alone.
Clegg said: “Some of our sessions where we have older participants have unfortunately had to be cancelled, such as line dancing and health walks, so you’re looking at 60-plus. With that age group told not to come out of their houses, it has made things quite difficult for us in that respect.
“But we have battled on, like they have really - the staff that would tend to be on those sessions have been on the phone, calling them up, just to see how they are getting on, asking them if they need anything or if we could help them with the odd jobs here and there.
“It’s just to be a friendly voice on the phone, really, because we have built up a really friendly relationship with these people. That phone call from our staff could be the only one they receive this week, or in two weeks’ time, because they haven’t really got anyone around this area.”