Supporting the vulnerable in Portsmouth
published on 27 Mar 2020
The Salvation Army’s Portsmouth Citadel is supporting some of the city’s most vulnerable residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
Major Andrea Still works is one of the dedicated staff members and volunteers at the centre at 17 Lake Road.
“We’ve taken on 40 new referrals to our Good Neighbours Project in the last week – these are older people who need us to go and do their food and grocery shopping for them. Portsmouth City Council has also been very supportive and referred people to the service” said Major Andrea Still.
And while demand for the service has increased because of the coronavirus pandemic so have the challenges facing the project.
“Our home shoppers from the Good Neighbours Project would normally go out and do a multiple shop and last week they were able to go to the supermarkets with their Salvation Army identification and be able to buy groceries for lots of people in one go” said Andrea.
“But the shops are now rationing how much we can buy and so we’re having to do individual shops and that means queuing for 40 minutes each time just to get into the supermarkets and some of them are now only allowing 12 customers in at any one time”
And Andrea says that the high demand for the Good Neighbours Project’s shopping service could continue for some time to come.
“We’re doing double the amount of home shopping we were doing last week and it’s an ongoing situation because almost all the people we’re supporting this way are over 70 and in the high risk category and so they may need our support for four months” she commented.
And, as Andrea describes, every day there’s a new challenge.
“The situation is changing every day and it’s evolving to the point that we’re having to do new risk assessments every day and we often see the plans we put in place for the day at our 9.00am staff meeting having to be changed by the afternoon. We’re constantly revising our coronavirus precautions to make sure we are protecting our staff and volunteers and the people we serve while we continue to distribute food to those who need it”
But there is a silver lining.
“We’ve got an amazing team here all doing their absolute best to support the people who need us at this time and it’s an honour to work alongside them” said Andrea.
“We’re also working with the local council to keep supporting the people in our community and find food for our foodbank and for our food delivery service. Elderly people who are self-isolating have been a local priority as have families whose children get free school meals as well as food banks. We’re now one of only six remaining foodbanks in the city that are still open – there were 20 operating here at one point”
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