This support has reached many new people, including those who are being ‘shielded’, are self-isolating, and people living alone whose support networks have been diminished or lost because of the removal of social contact. Many people living on very low or constrained income, in temporary accommodation or without adequate cooking facilities are also being supported.
The Lunch Positive volunteer team has been undertaking this essential support work as part of a city-wide response to help feed people and to help people stay connected and feel less isolated. Volunteers have been working in completely new ways, taking on new roles, working extra days and shifts, and in total giving 1,020 hours of time in the past month.
Every week the volunteer team has prepared from scratch a range of healthy and freshly cooked food, which is chilled or frozen and doorstep-delivered to people’s homes. This is accompanied by a bag of groceries. From May onwards the delivery menu will also include a selection of fresh salads and vegetable dishes.
Stocks of food to enable this service have been donated through local supporters, catering businesses, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership, and FareShare – the food redistribution charity. However, Lunch Positive still needs to buy food items and is actively fundraising to support the service.
The charity has maintained ongoing contact with people using the service through regular follow-up phone calls. Feedback from people receiving the support has been enthusiastic and often very moving. Many people have described the food as ‘a lifeline’ and ‘the only nutritious meals of the week’. Reflecting many people’s sentiments, one person living alone in temporary accommodation recently described the offer and supply of food as ‘the only example that people still care’.
Alongside this outreach food support, Lunch Positive has been providing regular ‘friendship calls’. Volunteers are available to take calls very day, to share a general chat and check-in with people, and to help people find any information or sources of advice that might help. This service is entirely confidential and anyone with HIV living locally is invited to call in on weekdays between 12-3pm.
Gary Pargeter, Lunch Positive service manager, said: ‘The commitment and energy demonstrated over the past month, together with continued enthusiasm, ideas and plans for the future, are all amazing examples of the supportiveness of our volunteers, members and the wider community.
‘In a very short time we have completely turned around our usual service to provide something hugely needed and completely new for these unprecedented times. In time our usual services will resume, but until then we want to support people with HIV in our community as much as possible in these new ways. Please do look at our website to find out more about how we can help, and how people can support our work.’
For more info, visit: www.lunchpositive.org, Facebook @lunchclubfriends, email firstname.lastname@example.org