A local newspaper recently asked me to reflect on what 2021 was like for QCCA - and what we think will happen in 2022 .
One of the most striking things has been seeing close up how many people in Gospel Oak are still coping with problems caused by lockdown. Some are still anxious about going out or continue to deal with debts built up during Covid. Older people’s health is a major concern. Many became less mobile when they couldn’t get out to exercise and conditions worsened because medical appointments got cancelled.
From an organisational point of view, Covid threw us our own challenges and staff worked incredibly hard to keep up with changing guidelines. But there was a lot to be proud of in 2021 and a lot of ‘firsts’.
Our first ever food-bank which started in March 2020 keeps going strong even though we thought the need would go away when lockdown finished. But it didn’t, infact we still have several people a week coming in to ask for help. During the height of the pandemic, we served 62,265 meal or meal equivalents in twelve months. Unfortunately, we’ve had to scale it back since then and turn people away because we’ve needed space for our normal activities. But we hope to increase capacity again soon.
And at the start of the year, we gave over our youth club to the local NHS to run a lateral flow test centre and a one-off vaccination hub, to encourage local BAME communities to engage with Covid prevention. We were delighted with the support we got from Sir Keir Starmer, Sir Lenny Henry and faith leaders from the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities. And equally delighted when the site completed 1061 lateral flow tests.
In 2022, we’ll be trying to increase resources to help people get back on their feet, whether that’s through fundraising or recruiting more volunteers to help with activities such as befriending. We’ll also be working closely with Camden Council and other area partners on the strategic plans for re-developing Gospel Oak, which we hope is a positive opportunity for us.
Wishing everyone here a happy and prosperous 2022.