Newcastle community projects help during lockdown

Imogen Davies and Sophie Wilson detail how projects around Newcastle are working to protect the vulnerable and help key workers.

Imogen Davies
17th April 2020
Image: Pixabay

Day three of uplifting news allows us to see what is happening on our doorsteps here in Newcastle, and showcases the work that is being done in our community to ensure the wellbeing of so many.

With the widespread effects of the ongoing pandemic, Grainger Market has changed its business strategy. Around 6000 food boxes have been sent out across Tyneside in the past two weeks of lockdown.

Grainger Market’s bundles have reached more than 1300 homes in the community

This is especially important to key workers and individuals considered vulnerable to the virus.

John Philips, who chairs the Grainger Market traders group and tuns Oliver's Cafe, has said that stalls have been processing up to 300 orders a day. While initially sceptical that they could pull off such a huge venture, the traders have expressed their inspiration at watching the community pull together. Currently, Newcastle City Council, NE1, traders and a number of volunteers have united to make their aspirations a reality. All sense of business rivalry has dissipated as traders have collaborated, helping their customers and the wider community.

Another project which has allowed the vulnerable to gain essentials is all down to Harissa Kitchen. They are delivering free meals to both elderly people and families in Newcastle who are struggling in lockdown. They will receive six days' worth of food each week which contains breakfast pots, soup and an evening meal. The project even includes cake in the packs for the weekend! The social enterprise restaurant is functioning in Byker, Walker, Sandyford, Ouseburn and Heaton. The founder of Harissa Kitchen, Jamie Sadler, said that, 

"We anticipate we will provide over 9,900 free meals over the next three months"

The meals cost the restaurant £5 per person, and although it does receive some funding from the council, it is not enough to cover costs. Harissa have set up a GoFund Me campaign to attempt to help with this.

A Newcastle project that has a direct relation to helping NHS workers is the city opening free parking across Newcastle. This is to allow key workers to get around during the pandemic, allowing them to park their vehicles both for work and when they need to buy essentials, alike food. Some of these car parks include the multi-storeys at Eldon Square, Eldon Garden and the Quayside; it applies to all council-run parking areas. In the RVI, 700 spaces have been allocated for critical care staff, and at the Freeman Hospital another 87 have been allocated. 

There are so many more examples of the goodwill of the Newcastle community. People are pulling together in many ways, and they all contribute to helping people survive lockdown, no matter how small the act of kindness is.

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