In the build-up to the Bedford Independent Everyday Heroes Awards, in partnership with The Harpur Trust, we’re taking a closer look at the nominees in each category.
Today, we’re shining a spotlight on one of the categories added to recognise the incredible efforts made by Bedfordians during the pandemic.
The winners will be announced on 25 March 2021 at 7:30 pm on our website, Facebook Page and YouTube channel.
Covid Hero (Organisation or Business) Award – sponsored by Bedford Independent
“Access Bedford have gone above and beyond during the pandemic to make sure the Bedford Deaf community have not been isolated,” said their nomination. The charity shifted their Deaf Space provision online during lock down with Sign Language Interpreters available remotely so that BSL users were supported with any issues they had. “Deaf Space used to be held in person fortnightly but throughout the pandemic, when so much was unknown, Access Bedford have made themselves accessible by text every day.” They were awarded a grant by the Harpur Trust who recognised their importance to the community, which enabled them to upgrade their equipment in order to provide effective support online to a group unable to use the phone or leave their houses to get support. A community that often does not have family support either due the communication barriers. They have reached out to, and are now working with, the Council and the CCG to interpret vital local COVID information into BSL, therefore actively supporting information sharing to this group and protecting their mental health in these terrifying times.
Dine with us
Dine with Us Community Larder repurposes unsold food and allows those in need to make use of it 52 weeks of the year. This service did not halt or decrease during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, instead the demands increased as members of the community struggled financially. Every week 100 collections are made on average day and night from supermarkets and food outlets by 32 volunteers in Bedford. “The daily excess of food is delivered to the most valued and vulnerable members of our community – our care homes, schools and emergency services. The East of England Ambulance Service, Bedfordshire Police HQ, Bedford Hospital, Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue and HM Prison Bedford are regular beneficiaries.” Each Tuesday, they serve between 40 and 60 customers at their shop on Greyfriars and they provide care packages to families identified by six schools highlighting the challenging circumstances many have found themselves in. A Saturday night hot meal has been provided for the homeless for the past five years – with no interruption to service during the pandemic.
“I am nominating FACES as staff, trustees and volunteers have gone above and beyond, tirelessly working to support families and their children through these uncertain times and managing to care for their own children who were at home alongside their work for our charity,” said their nomination. “They have not stopped and don’t intend to and are truly awesome.” From March 2020, the way the charity provided services to families needed to change overnight. They mobilised quickly and applied for emergency funds to help with the difficulties and anxieties that local families and their children were facing. Over 150 families received essentials packs including items that could not be provided by Foodbank parcels. The charity facilitated a crisis fund to support families with essentials such as carpets, white goods, school uniforms etc… and they extended their holiday hunger project during the summer and during half term, providing 400 free lunches in one week (and additionally 3,000 in the summer holidays).
Macmillan Palliative Care Team
The Macmillan Palliative Care Team are part of Bedfordshire Community Health Services and provide support to patients with cancer and other conditions in community settings in palliative and end of life situations. Due to covid more people have been unable to access hospitals for palliative care or into hospices. There were many more patients thus creating longer days and more pain management and patient emotional and mental health and wellbeing. A very challenging and testing time for the nurse team seeing this level of pain and distress for families and patients. They have been a key link during the pandemic between the patients and their GPs/hospital teams, ensuring their care is streamlined. “I believe we should be recognising this wonderful group of professionals and thanking them for their incredible warm, caring professional support,” said their nomination. “Covid has, understandably, been the main focus for the NHS and the professionals in our hospitals. However, people continue to die from cancer during this period and are missing being diagnosed or receiving treatment and so are suffering in their homes. These people would be in a much worse position if it wasn’t for the great work of this group of professionals, many of whom are based out of Twinwoods. Let’s show them our huge appreciation with the thanks of people across Bedford for their commitment to these patients. They are quite simply amazing.”
Marika at Marios Hair Designs
“Each week I wrote to my clients on my social media saying hello, seeing how they were and opening up with the struggle I was personally having mentally with lock down and reaching out to people should anyone need a shoulder to cry on or need anything they weren’t able to get, offering meals for children clients or not should they be struggling,” said Marika in her nomination. In September she sold raffle tickets with a prize of a year’s worth of haircuts and money raised was donated to FACES for them to buy Christmas presents for some of Bedford’s vulnerable children. “This is something I will now do every year,” said Marika.
Patrick’s Parcels was set up to support families falling through mainstream services. “Children are a blameless victim of working poverty and they want to help improve lives,” said their nomination. Patrick’s Parcels’ aim is to support 50 families in working poverty with food support and a Christmas dinner (and gifts) across Bedford and Bedfordshire. “The help does not stop there – they wanted to do more than handouts – they want to help support families get out of food poverty with advice and guidance, employability mentoring, food advice – signposting to services such as mental health, addiction, money management and other barriers in life. I think they deserve a medal, I hope you do too.”