Harrow Road Councillor Tim Roca relates his experience of volunteering with the W9 Crew:
“Volunteer groups across Westminster are supporting some of our most vulnerable residents as we deal with the ongoing consequences of Covid-19. Many of these groups only sprang up in the last month or so to help deal with the challenges of the crisis. It has to be one of the more positive stories that so many people have freely given up their own time to help neighbours and fellow members of the community.
I was able to spend time helping out the brilliant “W9 Crew” in the last week. These volunteers have been supporting the North Paddington Food Bank out of the WECH community centre on Elgin Avenue. The food bank has gone from delivering less than 100 food parcels to over 1000 per week across Westminster. This wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers who are helping to get the food out to where it’s most needed. Russ Kitching who helps co-ordinate the W9 Crew explained that it wasn’t just a case of delivering food but also the crucial interaction volunteers were having with vulnerable people living alone, who have had limited social contact since lockdown began. It has also meant that volunteers have sadly come across the very difficult circumstances some of our residents face day to day, many having both physical and mental health challenges that have been worsened as lockdown continues.
Westminster Labour Councillors were able to help North Paddington Food Bank with a financial contribution of over £20,000 at the beginning of the crisis and will also continue to support and facilitate volunteers and charities wherever possible. Not just during the crisis as they deliver frontline help to the most in need, but also afterwards to ensure they get the recognition they deserve. One of the stark realities is that even as lockdown is eased the economic situation facing our communities means that many will still be dependent on support and there will be challenges as some volunteers need to return to work. We will push to ensure that these key frontline charities and groups are supported by the council, and that our vulnerable continue to get the help they need.”