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Camden has ‘heart of gold’: Community response to coronavirus shows borough’s best, says Dame Esther Rantzen

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:14 18 March 2020

Dame Esther Rantzen is proud of Hampstead and Highgate's collective response to coronavirus. Picture: Julian Claxton

Dame Esther Rantzen is proud of Hampstead and Highgate's collective response to coronavirus. Picture: Julian Claxton

Julian Claxton Photography 2019

Camden’s stirring and heartwarming response to coronavirus shows the borough has ‘a heart of gold’, says Hampstead resident and former TV presenter Dame Esther Rantzen.

Age UK Camden is delivering care packages to the elderly. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoAge UK Camden is delivering care packages to the elderly. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Currently self-isolating, Dame Esther, 79, has been inspired by the upspring of neighbourhood spirit and community action following the outbreak - particularly the level of support and compassion displayed towards the elderly.

Age UK Camden is providing care packages including food for the vulnerable, and is being aided in its community relief efforts by Mutual Aid groups across north London, and Hampstead Volunteer Corps, which has attracted more than 200 helpers in the three days since it started (March 14).

Esther said: “It’s absolutely brilliant. I am so inspired by the way the voluntary sector is rallying around and helping the most vulnerable.

“I hope they get as much support as possible to continue doing this crucial work.

“I think it proves that Hampstead and Highgate have a heart of gold – that Camden has a heart of gold.”

Dame Esther, a patron for Age UK Camden, called for the surge of community support to continue, helping deliver a ‘lasting legacy’ of care.

She also encouraged people self-isolating to take the opportunity of time to write down their life stories.

The former broadcaster is a patron for Age UK Camden, who this week launched an emergency appeal requesting household staples such as tinned food, soap, tea, toilet roll and biscuits.

The charity also started providing coronavirus support packages including food parcels, internet shopping, an advice and befriending service, an online book club and live streaming of its lunchtime music recitals.

Nikki Morris, Age UK Camden CEO, said: “We are here for all the older people in Camden who need us.

“We understand the anxiety as well as the practical issues that arise from this situation and are supporting an increasing number of older people and their relatives who are reaching out to us for help.

“Our staff are working around the clock to respond to this situation and ensure we can meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our community.”

To donate to Age UK’s emergency appeal, there are drop-off points at Tavis House in St Pancras, or the charity’s shop in Leather Lane, Holborn.

For more information visit www.ageuk.org.uk/camden/.

For advice on coronavirus visit www.gov.uk.

For live updates on coronavirus across north London, visit our blog or Facebook group.


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