Queens Park community group partners with Tesco to support vulnerable during coronavirus crisis

Volunteers packing up food parcels

A community service supporting vulnerable people and run entirely by volunteers has opened in Queens Park.

The Food Parcel Delivery was created by concerned residents who felt vulnerable friends and neighbours would need additional and long-term support through the coronavirus crisis.

Queen’s Park Community Orchard is working in partnership with the Bedford Extra Tesco in Cardington Road.

Tesco has agreed to keep stocks supplied, and will be funded by the Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation as part of the Bedfordshire Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund.

Recipients of the food will be referred to the group of 25 volunteers through a network of community partners including schools, mosques, churches, Bedfordshire Police, local councillors and community groups and will include asylum seekers and families, couples or individuals with no recourse to public funds.

“The current situation has already had a negative impact on many families in Queen’s Park,” said chair of Queen’s Park Community Orchard, Eric Masih.

“The lockdown may yet be in place for a number of weeks, but its effect – and the effect on our economy – will be felt a lot longer.

“We felt we had to act on behalf of those who are not only vulnerable or elderly, but who may well simply run out of money in the next few months and have little access basic essentials.”

A number of excellent schemes are already in place across the borough, including Bedford Kindness and the COVID 19 Hub created by Bedford Borough Council.

“We hope our service – which includes delivery to our local residents – will make a positive contribution at this time of great need,” said Eric.

“In Queen’s Park, we pride ourselves on our community spirit and never has there been a more crucial time to pull together and look out for those who need it most.

“We are delighted to have such a range of partners involved, to ensure our food parcels get to the right people, and that Bedfordshire Luton Community Foundation has trusted us in delivering this service to the community.

“We are also working closely with Bedfordshire Police who have helped us set up the project and ensured we are following the latest government protocols to keep volunteers and those we are helping safe.

“This would also not be possible without our colleagues at Tesco Extra – who have agreed to keep our foodbank stocked for the duration of this crisis.

“We are very pleased to be able to support such an excellent initiative. With the help of our community partners, we know we will be targeting members of the community that need help and food during this difficult time.”

Marie-Ange Comerford-Raillon, secretary of Queen’s Park Community Orchard, said, “For the last few weeks, we have worked with our partners to put this long term strategy together.

“Our biggest concern was always: what would happen to our most vulnerable if people across the country begin to struggle financially and donations dry up?

“We wanted to come up with a plan and a strategy which is sustainable and coordinated by local residents. I am so proud of the team who are all ready to go into action.”

To volunteer or to find out more about the scheme, contact qpco.bedford@gmail.com / @QPCOBEDFORD

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