KCSC has been a part of the Community Resilience Group (CRG) since its formation at the start of the pandemic. The group was set up by RBKC to develop and implement the emergency response for the borough. Members of the group include senior officers from across the council such as Communities, Public Health and Children and Families as well as senior officers from West London Clinical Commissioning Group. The voluntary and community sector is represented by KCSC, The Volunteer Centre and Age UK Kensington and Chelsea.
The role of the VCS as part of the group has been critical to the collaborative approach which has taken place, working together to support Age UK's food and support service for the over 65 age group as well as the under 65 Food Distribution Service.
Each week Age UK fed and supported hundreds of older people who were under lockdown and KCSC worked with the Venture Centre, Bay 20 and Smart to deliver just over 1000 food parcels during lockdown to under 65s, whilst the council provided administration support to manage referrals into the under 65 system.
The Volunteer Centre has also played a key role in supporting, advising and providing volunteers whether through formal volunteering routes or neighbourly volunteering such as through the Mutual Aid Groups.
Central to the work of the CRG was the council's Hub for the shielded population during lockdown and all partners worked together to ensure services were joint up and providing adequate support.
The work of the CRG has enabled close working across the council, NHS and the VCS in a way that has not been seen before during an emergency. The learning is that much can be done if collaborative working is harnessed right from the start and the VCS not brought in as tick box measure or after thought.
The position of the CRG is currently to maintain oversight of a potential second wave as well as moving towards plans that begin to consider what a future resilient community looks like and what needs to be put in place? One issue that has been highlighted not just in this borough but across the country is the matter of the digital divide. These are issues the CRG and any future working groups in the borough will need to address as part of building community resilience. KCSC will keep members updated on this development.
The pandemic took us all by surprise and the emergency response has been one of local community action which has revealed the incredible role of community and the voluntary sector alongside the statutory sector. A good lesson for dealing with any future emergency response.
KCSC would once again like to thank the supporters of the Under 65 food distribution service - namely RBKC for the initial purchase of food and goods and providing administration support, Westway Trust for providing the initial funding to also help the project to get started and the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation for funding which enabled it to continue.