Church of the Nazarene: Pandemic Overview
Volunteering Support Fund
Church of the Nazarene, Ayrshire
Prior to the lockdown it was obvious from following developments internationally that a time of national emergency was going to engulf the nation. Three weeks before the lock down was announced North Ayrshire Foodbank approached the Council to enquire how it can prepare to assist the local Civil Emergency team. We have been working with them since then in providing food to all of our communities across North Ayrshire.
Due to previous investments we had installed commercial grade equipment. That equipment has the capacity to cook 500 meal portions a day. If families were going into lockdown then feeding programmes would be needed. That has proven to be the case. Initially it was those who were shielded, followed very quickly by those put onto furlough and all schools were closed.
The week before the schools closed we held a recruitment night. It was a somber event as we all discussed not only the magnitude of the pandemic, the colossal loss of life but the fact that anybody volunteering with us would not be insured. The volunteers knew that by coming out to assist in feeding their communities they would be risking their lives.
The provision of PPE was fraught at the beginning as there was a national shortage and other organisations had better resources to pay for the inflated prices. A significant amount of time was spent shopping on line. On several occasions orders were accepted only to be terminated days later as they could not fulfil them. Initially all we could secure were the gloves. Attaining hand solutions was very difficult and getting face mask was impossible. As they gradually became available we purchase as much as we could afford given inflated pricing. We eventually managed to equip the volunteers with visors, masks, gloves and hand sanitiser.
The maximum number of meals per day is 500. At the moment we have only been required to create just shy of 1000 per week (average) . The chef has devised a set number of meals which are nutritionally balanced, portion sized and allergen free as much as possible. Those meals assisted over 600 children over the Easter holidays and1,000 elderly residents. WE are gearing up to maximise the number of meals over the summer holidays. The emails have supplemented those food packs organised by the Scottish Government for shielded residents and children households by the Local Authority. Thankfully the programme has been supported by Community Windpower Limited who are covering the costs of the majority of the ingredients (primarily meat).
Several of the volunteers undertook the Food Hygiene course. One, an ex-army, member of the team needed the fee to be paid for him. The teams have been bought, where necessary, clothing fitting for the role, as well as sufficient PPE materials to reduce the risk of infection. The chef had to self-isolate for a fortnight due to his mother (a Carer worker) being COVID 19 infected. During that time we had to close for sufficient days to allow the virus to die with the Council doing a deep clean. The volunteers stayed away for a few days and then worked alongside a replacement chef for the isolation period.
The transferring of the funds towards this activity allowed for the chef outfits and PPE equipment to be purchased. This has boosted the confidence and security of the team. They continue to work hard on providing the meals through an agreed rota. Thus allowing all tasks to be covered whilst minimising the risk of infection for any one person.