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‘Everybody is in this together’: Highgate Newtown Community Centre helping vulnerable through pandemic

PUBLISHED: 15:52 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:12 15 May 2020

Highgate councillor Oliver Lewis out delivering for HNCC. Picture: Adam Harrison

Highgate councillor Oliver Lewis out delivering for HNCC. Picture: Adam Harrison

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“This is about community helping community – everybody is in this together.”

HNCC has set up a food bank based out of the Whittington Estate. Picture: Highgate Newtown Community CentreHNCC has set up a food bank based out of the Whittington Estate. Picture: Highgate Newtown Community Centre

Highgate Newtown Community Centre (HNCC) has placed itself at the heart of the local coronavirus response.

To help the vulnerable during the pandemic, its newly-formed Covid-19 team has provided hot meals to schoolchildren, introduced shopping and prescription support for the isolated, set up four phonelines for people in need and delivered food parcels across the area.

With its base in Bertram Street soon to be demolished and redeveloped, it has launched a food bank from the Whittington Estate.

“The food bank has been really phenomenal,” said Mags O’Reilly, HNCC operations manager.

"It's a collaborative, community effort." Picture: Highgate Newtown Community Centre

“So many people are volunteering and organising street donations.

“We’re focusing on being respectful to people who receive the food, so we spend a lot of money every week on fresh fruit and vegetables.”

The food parcels are delivered by HNCC’s van, filled with anything from bananas, oranges and apples to mushrooms, carrots and aubergine.

“People are getting food they actually want to eat,” Mags said.

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“They’re nice food parcels and something you would go out and buy yourself.”

Mags stresses how HNCC’s work has reached people who haven’t necessarily needed support previously – until now.

“It’s a very stressful time for a lot of people we are dealing with,” she said.

“It’s very, very difficult for people to come and ask for food when they’ve never been in that situation before.

“Suddenly people are finding themselves without a job, for instance self-employed people like musicians and actors who don’t necessarily earn huge amounts of money, and they’ve found their income streams slashed.”

To prevent duplication, HNCC has partnered with schools and grassroots groups such as Brookfield School, Holly Lodge Community Centre, Brookfield Residents Association, Cooperation Kentish Town and Highgate Mutual Aid.

“It’s a collaborative, community effort,” Mags said.

“Everybody is working together to try and make sure no one goes without and that people feel supported.

“We’re really hoping it is something that will continue after this crisis passes because this community really has been amazing.”

To donate to HNCC click here.

For more information on its services call 07483 145587 / 07552 218520 or e-mail andrewhncc@outlook.com


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