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COLUMN: How Care Zone helped a family fleeing domestic abuse at the peak of the pandemic

Like most businesses, the Care Zone sadly had to stop operating when the UK went into lockdown in March. This is how it continued to help those in need
How the Care Zone and Foodbank coped through coronavirus (photo: Keith Hammond)

Many of our volunteers are in the vulnerable or over 70 group, so for their safety we temporarily closed. However, even during that time and with skeletal staff we still responded to urgent requests to support local families such as providing furniture and beds to a family fleeing domestic violence.

After implementing some changes to our operation to ensure that we were compliant with Covid-19 regulations, we partially reopened our service at the beginning of June.

We were aware that despite coronavirus, local families and individuals still needed our support to help provide essential items such as beds and furniture. We also pledged to help provide beds and bedding for all the homeless individuals who are being supported in moving from the temporary hotels into more permanent accommodation.

We opened in June to start receiving donated furniture items to help build back up our stock, and then a few weeks later we started accepting referrals from a number of agencies.

Since reopening we have helped 42 households which included 51 Adults and 24 children with furniture. We have given away 211 items of furniture.

We know that our service is so important, one of our clients recently said: "We are so thankful for all of the items you have given us for our new home. We were worried about where we were going to sleep, and we didn't have any kitchen equipment to cook with and Care Zone has given us so much to get us started in our new home. We hope that in the future we will be able to donate to Care Zone to help more people who are like us."

They added: "I had been living in a tent for a few months before Covid-19 and then placed in a hotel during the lockdown. With thanks to many agencies I have a home and furniture from Care Zone to fill it. I feel like my future is brighter and I am trying to turn my life around so that I don’t end up sleeping rough again."

It is great to know we are helping people, but Care Zone also provides a great place to volunteer. One of our volunteers said: "I like volunteering at Care Zone because all the staff and volunteers are caring people.

"I enjoy building and sorting furniture donations knowing these are going to people in our community that need it the most. I like making a difference in people’s lives."

We have a variety of roles that people can do, such as helping in the warehouse cataloguing furniture, organising our small household area, or assisting with the furniture collections or deliveries.

One of our volunteers, Nick, added: "I enjoy delivering furniture to people’s homes who don’t have any furniture at all. Their faces light up when they see the items arriving, and are so grateful to Care Zone for blessing them with furniture."

We are still operating at a reduced level as we are working with a smaller workforce of employees and volunteers but we hope that things will change soon.

If you are interested in volunteering with us we would love to hear from you. Please do contact us via email. We are Covid-19 compliant and have safe practices in place.