“In March 2020, I was approached by Canon Simon Butler of St Mary’s Church in Battersea to discuss how we could respond to the Covid 19 pandemic. He had been in contact with other Community groups including Katherine Low Settlement and Sacred Heart Church. There was a strong feeling we needed to do something to support our local community during this difficult period.
I offered to Simon to run the ‘operational’ side of the team, and using my experiences I had gained over the last 20 years in business set up a volunteer sign up, together with a social media and leafleting campaign. Simon had given me a very specific brief, which helped me plan how we would set this up. It was simple, we would create a place where people in the local area could volunteer to help those in need, whether it be to do their shopping, walk their dog, collect their prescription or be someone at the end of the phone. We would match the people together, with certain safeguards to protect both the person in need and the volunteer.
I was amazed with the response, over the space of 1 week I had built my leafleting team who distributed 7,500 leaflets to every property in the area over the weekend, we launched our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram sites and put posters up in the local community. This resulted in over 400 people who offered their help.
The 2nd stage was to raise our profile in the local community, which we did through our existing links in the community, as well as our leaflet campaigning and word of mouth. Initially we were helping many people a day, and we have run thousands and thousands of missions during the pandemic.
I do look back now as those busy, but scary times at the start of the pandemic. From a personal point of view, I felt I needed to do something to help others, and by bringing people together the response was brilliant. I called on other people who had offer to volunteer to become core team members, and using their skills we built a very strong coordinating team, which was crucial to make decisions quickly and efficiently. One person even helped design an interactive map, which saved our coordinators time matching people in need to those who wanted to help them. The core team we built definitely contributed to its success.
Looking back now, I feel an enormous sense of pride for the community and how we responded. We might now head back to our normal lives, but long-term relationships have been established and we have built on this by creating a group of befrienders.
Would I do it again? Yes of course, but hopefully not on the back of a pandemic next time!”
Coronavirus Angels worked seven days a week (including bank holidays) during the Covid pandemic 2020-21. Volunteers helped with shopping, prescription collection, arrangement of food parcels and other administrative matters, provided a listening ear and a telephone befriending service.
The Angels was a partnership between local residents and Katherine Low Settlement, St Mary’s Battersea Church, Sacred Heart Church, Battersea Society and Battersea United Charities. About 450 local volunteers helped more than 700 local vulnerable residents.
Katherine Low Settlement is a much-loved, busy charity that has been at the heart of the community in Battersea, south-west London, since 1924.
With a few staff and a lot of volunteers, Katherine Low Settlement runs a range of its own popular community projects including educational courses and wellbeing activities. The charity supports children, young people and their families, older people, refugees and newly arrived communities of all genders, nationalities and religions.
The Katherine Low Settlement building in Battersea High Street, opened in 1924, is used for community activities and events, usually – until the arrival of Covid-19 – by over 500 people a week. Its rooms are available for hire at affordable rates.
Katherine Low Settlement is grateful for the funding received from supporters, trusts and foundations to enable the charity to continue to reduce poverty and isolation and bring Battersea together.
High resolution digital images available from Katherine Low Settlement press contacts.