#BrumTogether: How we all came together to help our city

It was January 2020 when we first started hearing about a novel coronavirus appearing in the Far East. It was a virus spreading so quickly that cities had to be quarantined and people were getting ill. It was devastating.  

“I just thought it was something happening somewhere else, I didn’t think it was going to impact us and our lovely little world. But then I watched the TV and saw one or two things happening and then you start seeing the pattern emerge,” Maxine, Wellbeing Instructor.

Over the next few weeks, we started hearing about outbreaks in European cities. People were scared and by early March 2020 the Government started advising us to wash our hands and to avoid public gatherings. Covid-19 was here.

16th March 2020, roads began to get quieter but there were big queues outside every supermarket. People were worried, panic buying – was chaos about to emerge? For the first time ever all events and activities got cancelled and by the end of the week, pubs, restaurants and shops were also forced to close. A few days later the Prime Minister announced a national lockdown. It was happening.

Like many community organisations across Birmingham, The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) were concerned for those living in isolation and poverty; “We knew the needs of the community were still strong, we knew that there was poverty.” -Lisa Trickett, Councillor Brandwood and Kings Heath & Chair of The Active Wellbeing Society.

Just before lockdown, many charities and groups across the city began their operations to support those who could potentially be affected by a pandemic. Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC) asked TAWS to lead a ‘Food Group’ involving foodbanks, Faith groups and others involved in tackling food poverty in their communities. There were no restrictions on who could be part of this network.

Food charities such as FareShare, local groups such as Incredible Surplus and faith groups such as Masjid Al Falaah were doing some amazing work and quickly became part of this movement. We all added contacts we knew, started discussing how we can work together, and a few days later safely met face to face.

As lockdown approached, a WhatsApp group and other online/digital resources were created to continue planning. The group ‘met’ every two days to share intelligence and quickly began to re-distribute surplus food that was collected from shops and restaurants closing due to Covid. The food went to families and isolated individuals who were in desperate need, but more needed to be done.

We invite you watch the #BrumTogether video to find out how communities and volunteers came together as one for the greater good of the city. Hear from volunteers that stepped up, people that received support and some of the many organisations that provided food, funding, and wider support to those most in need.

Using #BrumTogether, we’re sharing stories of kindness during Covid-19 and we’d love to hear from you. If you have a positive story you’d like others to hear visit www.theaws.co.uk/positive-stories.

For anyone interested in addressing the systemic issues around food poverty in the city visit www.theaws.co.uk/collectfood

Adeel Khan
Author: Adeel Khan