A community hub created to support the city’s most vulnerable through the coronavirus crisis has closed after over four months.
The Norwich Community Response Hub was established to coordinate all of Norwich City Council’s work during the Covid-19 pandemic. This included signposting to and supporting local services and activities provided by voluntary and community groups, as well as working with volunteers and staff to support those unable to directly access essentials like food and medicine as well as those who simply needed someone to talk to during this difficult time.
With the gradual easing of lockdown measures and the recent pausing of shielding guidance, the decision has been made to end the hub’s work barring any future significant rise in infections.
Stephen Evans, Chief Executive Officer at Norwich City Council, said:
“I am hugely proud that a completely new service set up in just days has worked so effectively to support the city through this challenging time.
“It is great news that the rate of infection has slowed sufficiently to allow a greater sense of normality to resume, but we all need to remain vigilant and keep following all guidance.
“We will not hesitate to call on the hub again, although we hope we don’t need to.”
Councillor Alan Waters, Leader of Norwich City Council, said:
“I am so proud that the city has rallied around the most vulnerable in our society during this hugely difficult time.
“We want to reassure anyone who may be uncomfortable with the rate of change that support is still available to those who need it. The closure of this hub does not change our commitment to keeping the city safe and well throughout this pandemic.”
Over 500 people registered to volunteer in Norwich during the peak of the coronavirus crisis and, alongside existing council employees redeployed to staff the hub, were vital in allowing it to run effectively.
New and existing community and voluntary groups engaged with the council to provide vital support in their own neighbourhoods to one another, and the hub was able to signpost residents to them. Many of these groups and activities continue to run and grow through the hard work and commitment of those involved.
The team made over 6600 welfare calls during the pandemic, engaging with almost 4000 of the city’s most vulnerable residents. Over 700 food parcels were delivered, and over 500 vital medical pickups were completed.
Alongside the closure of the hub in Norwich, the government’s National Shielding Service will no longer be in place to deliver food boxes to extremely vulnerable people and pharmacies will be discontinuing some delivery services.
If residents are still struggling, there is still support in place which can be accessed through the existing Norfolk County Council phone line on 0344 800 8020. Volunteers who came forward to support others during lockdown are still giving time to help, coordinated by Voluntary Norfolk.
This can include help to collect shopping, medications and befriending where people do not have friends or family to support them. People can also find information on local community groups on LUMi.org.uk for mutual aid and charity support near them.
If people are struggling financially, due to the effects of Covid-19 or otherwise, they can contact the Norfolk Assistance Scheme (NAS) to apply for support. The scheme aims to support people through difficulty by awarding funding, which can be a cash donation or used to make specific purchases.