Walsall Council, Walsall Housing Group (WHG) and community networks have teamed up this Christmas to fund, pack and deliver more than 1,500 kindness boxes to some of Walsall’s most vulnerable residents. The programme has been powered by some one and a quarter million pounds (£1,134,745.58) sourced from the government’s COVID-19 Winter Grant scheme.
Over the winter period, the grant will help support vulnerable people in Walsall, many of whom have been impacted by COVID-19. In collaboration with Walsall Council, Walsall Housing Group (whg) is also on board with the project to help ease hardship in the borough, the housing provider and council partner has recently secured an additional £100,000 of funds through a Barclays bank COVID-19 Community Aid Package. The wider programme of Winter support is being targeted where it is most needed, and it is a partnership and community effort. A production line of volunteers at Sneyd Community Association will manage the delivery of the kindness boxes with military precision. This tireless community army will be working around the clock to pack and stack some 1,500 boxes of food, blankets, toiletries and children’s gifts – so they are ready for delivery to their final destinations.
Wider whg and council partnership includes direct work with NHS staff to help support the vulnerable and elderly that are discharged from hospital over the winter period. This vital work to protect some of Walsall’s most vulnerable people has already prompted a huge community response. In one day alone, the WHG teams received a delivery of 29 industrial size pallets, 23 of them rammed with food and toiletries, others were piled high with toys.
The government’s Winter Grant Scheme - which has recently gone live on the Walsall Council website is also supporting those eligible and in need with payments towards food, energy and water bills - as well as items such as warm clothing, bedding and Christmas toys for children. At least 80% of the total funding will be ring-fenced to support households with children, with up to 20% of the total funding to other households experiencing or at risk of experiencing, poverty during the pandemic.
Councillor Garry Perry, deputy leader for resilient communities at Walsall Council added: “2020 has been a long, hard year for so many and we want children and families to know that the council can help, along with the council’s Money Home Job team, I applaud whg and our community partners as they continue to identify and prioritise support. Local people know their communities and how to get the right people together to support each other. It is this local intelligence that leads to a resilient response, so our partnership production lines can get the help where it's needed and quickly. A terrific thank you goes to our local police and fire service for kindly contributing by providing food and toiletries. Whg has also been outstanding in their efforts.”
“In the run-up to the festive period this structured response, and wider community and council support will truly make a difference to many families over the Winter period. Literally, these are local boxes of kindness that will help brighten lives.”
Councillor Stephen Craddock, Walsall Council’s portfolio holder for health and wellbeing said: “As we head into winter and the festive season, the new COVID Winter Grant Scheme will be greatly received by some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents. We want the scheme to be available to our hardest-hit residents so it is readily available to help pay for food, utility bills and essential supplies between December and March 2021.”
“No-one should feel worried about being able to feed their families or keep them warm this Christmas if you are a Walsall resident and are concerned please go to www.walsall.gov.uk/covid-19_information/coronavirus_covid_-_19_help_support_for_walsall_residents"
Julie Haywood, Director of Community Investment at WHG, said: “Christmas should be a time of happiness, but for far too many it is the season of additional money worries and isolation. whg’s Kindness Initiative is just one small way we are helping households who have struggled during this challenging year. By working with the council, we have been able to pool our resources and share the spirit of Christmas with communities across Walsall.”
“Through the Kindness Initiative, nearly 1,200 gift parcels have been delivered to families in Walsall, including 300 gift vouchers. whg will also be making 600 food deliveries to customers throughout the Christmas period.”
Walsall Police and Walsall Fire Services have also kindly contributed to the winter grant scheme by providing food and toiletries.
Chief Superintendent Andy Parsons, from Walsall police, said: “We’re thrilled to have been able to support the COVID Winter Grant scheme. It’s so important, especially at Christmas, to be able to share with those who are in need.
“The scheme is fantastic and is helping many vulnerable people within our communities. It’s great that we’ve been able to get involved and offer our support by donating items we know will mean a lot to the people who receive them.”