Grateful recipients of the goodies included council staff from the Register Office, Youth Offending Team and the call centre that has been taking many calls related to the challenge residents are facing. Members of AMYA also took supplies to colleagues who have been based at RAF Henlow, which has been used to provide extra storage capacity for the bodies of those sadly deceased in the crisis.
Laptops for Luton students to enable home learning
With schools and other educational institutes closed for most, students have had to get used to home learning and doing more work digitally. However, some children don’t have access to the right equipment to enable this. Without a device to work on at home, young people may fall behind in their studies and miss out on developing key skills when compared to their peers.
To address this, a group of local organisations called Luton Learning Link are collecting electronic devices to give to young people without one to work on at home. This group has been set up by the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, Luton Education Service, Luton Council of Mosques, Luton Council of Sunni Mosques, Level Trust and We Are Luton to provide 250 devices to local young people who are in desperate need of one.
Bikes for Beds Heroes Project
Here’s a key worker with one of the 30 free bikes that we recently helped deliver to Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, working alongside Thameslink as part of the “Bikes for Bedfordshire Heroes” project.
The bikes were fully refurbished and made roadworthy by our Sustainable Travel team, ready for hospital staff to use. The bikes will help the staff get to and from work whilst maintaining social distancing and enable them to get some valuable exercise at the same time.
Read more about the bike delivery here.
Let’s hear it for our community heroes!
Chief Executive Robin Porter, has paid tribute to the ‘awe-inspiring’ work of voluntary and charity groups across the town during the covid-19 emergency.
He visited just some of the incredible groups working hard to support our community last week, but has sent his heartfelt thanks to every single individual, group, charity or voluntary organisation pulling together to support the town.
From Facebook groups like the Covid-19 Community Action Support Group to organisations like Age Concern, Luton Foodbank, Discover Islam, Chaul End Eatery, Al Hikmah and Challney High schools, Safer Luton Partnership and countless more helping with shopping, hot meals and support for key workers and our most vulnerable.
Robin also paid visits to the Multi-Agency Hospital Discharge Team, led by Marilyn George, who are helping to keep our brilliant L&D functioning, the midwives who have a temporary home at the Chaul End Community Centre (pictured) and teamed up with the Visiting Superheroes, who have been visiting children having trouble with anxiety and depression and also raising money for the NHS.
“The community effort in Luton has been, quite simply, astounding”, said Robin. “It demonstrates the values of ‘Luton in Harmony’ in action, particularly as a lot of these groups cross cultures and religions and are working together for the good of the town.”
Read more about our community heroes here.
Get help with your bills
More than 2,000 people have so far received a reduction in their bills, or help to delay or reschedule payments.
Radio listeners make waves
Luton Urban Radio has been ‘overwhelmed’ with donations after they issued a plea on behalf of some of the most vulnerable communities in Luton.
Listeners responded to the station’s donation drive with
- more than 40 bags of clothes
- 20 boxes of non-perishable food, toiletries and cleaning products
A spokeswoman for Luton Urban Radio, which has been serving the community for more than 20 years, said: “On behalf of all the DJs and presenters, we want to thank all the community who have donated to our initiative – and to those who need it the most.”
Cathy the baby bank manager
Cathy Bove has been supporting Luton’s Flying Start Children’s Centre to supply some of Luton’s most vulnerable families with clothes and toys for their children.
She's set up a ‘baby bank’ of donations and as the lockdown continues, parents who have been badly impacted financially by the crisis are finding it even more difficult than usual to provide for their children.
Recently Cathy received a call from a children’s centre family worker on behalf of an expectant mother who was about to give birth four weeks before her initial due date. As a consequence, she wasn’t ready and was struggling to get what she needed.
Cathy quickly arranged a personal delivery of clothes, toys and other equipment, freeing the mum-to-be, taking her anxiety away and helping her get in the right frame of mind for the imminent arrival.
As a result of the epidemic, Cathy is now doing all the deliveries herself rather than relying on others, ensuring this service with a real family touch continues to help those who are struggling at this time.
A huge thank you to Cathy... keep up the amazing work!
Creativity is not cancelled!
The creative industries contribute £33m to the Luton economy annually. They also bring our communities together and help prepare children and young people for the jobs of the future. That’s why we we’re working with Revolution Arts, Tangled Feet, The Culture Trust, UK Centre for Carnival Arts and the University of Bedfordshire to support wherever we can.
Local measures include, but are not limited to:
- support for self-employed artists and small creative businesses to apply for emergency funding from the government, Arts Council England and other funders
- survey of the lost income experienced by local creatives to enable further advocacy
- mechanisms for artists to earn income through digital commissions
- honouring wherever possible all artist contracts to deliver artistic programmes
- rental holidays for Culture Trust creative tenants
- emotional support and advice for any creative in need of a peer to talk to
Face masks for bin crews
A huge thank you to Donna Stevens, who runs the My Sewing Basket
shop in Dunstable and recently made 160 face masks for our bin crews.
This important safety equipment will help to protect our bin men as they continue to provide a vital front line service.
A lesson in giving back
A huge thank you to Stopsley High School, which has joined forces with Luton Sixth Form College to provide PPE for the NHS and local key workers.
Design Technology teacher, Adam Wise, from Stopsley High School, designed face masks to meet the government specification using materials from the school stores. After initially producing 35 face shields for local businesses, the project gathered interest.
A production team filled with volunteers from SHS and Luton Sixth made a further 220 shields with most being delivered to the Luton and Dunstable hospital.
As news of the success spread, the team received a request from the newly formed Nightingale hospital who were supplied with more than 200 face shields. As a result of the hard work and ingenuity of the team from Stopsley High School and Luton Sixth Form College, a total of 514 face shields have been delivered to help to protect those on the frontline.
A huge well done and thank you to everyone involved!!
Supporting the community
We've been supporting the community in as many ways as we possibly can. So far we've:
AMYA lends a hand
A big thank you to AMYA (Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association UK) who have donated 500 cartons of mango juice to us for sending to vulnerable people in need of food parcels.
A team from AMYA also helped with the big shopping trips we made for the shielded list of extremely vulnerable people.
Thanks for all your help!
Wow! Thank you Discover Islam
A huge thank you to the Discover Islam centre, which is working with partners across the whole community including Diverse FM, Crisis Aid, Lantern and Age Concern to provide supplies, hot meals and vital equipment at this time of crisis.
It has committed over £50k worth in support to various causes which include:
- 10,000 NHS Visors
- Level trust stationary packs
- Level Trust survival packs
- £20 to 25k in food purchases for Luton Foodbank
- supporting Diverse FM, Crisis Aid, Lantern, Age Concern, community members with food for those self-isolating or vulnerable
- weekly food items to shelters
- significant food and toiletry items drops to hospital
- 30 day Ramadhaan essential food packs
- issuing up to 25 packs for those in need daily
- increased hot meal deliveries to Luton shelters and Luton Foodbank clients
- delivered food items to over 100 different organisations
- gifts to keys workers across services including Luton Council, Prison services, Royal Mail, care homes
- NHS wellbeing packs working in Covid-19 wards
#LutonSchoolRun raises over £25k!
On 24 April teachers and staff from 39 schools across Luton took part (virtually) in fundraising challenge #LutonSchoolRun.
The event, organised by St Matthew’s Primary School, aimed to raise £12,500 for the Luton based charity, Level Trust, to support vulnerable children, young people and families during the coronavirus crisis. A total of 3,072 miles were covered over the 12 hours.
Participating schools were allocated a one-hour time slot between 7am and 7pm on Friday, and during this period they had to complete a run or walk around their garden or living space for the full hour.
Daniel Chaplen, Sports Development Manager, St Matthews Primary School, said the event ‘went way beyond expectations… with the amount that we have raised Level Trust will be able to continue supporting Luton families with food, clothing and resources throughout the school closure period and hopefully beyond.’
Chief exec rolls his sleeves up (and gets his gloves on)
Robin Porter, chief exec of Luton Council, joined volunteers and council staff busy packing food, medication and supplies for distribution to some of the most vulnerable people in the town on Friday. He was also on hand to receive and sort personal protection equipment (PPE) for front line care staff to ensure they can carry out the vital job of caring for Luton’s elderly and vulnerable.
After completing his stint, Robin said he was ‘absolutely inspired and in awe of our communities, council staff and volunteers and regional partners, all working around the clock to support our residents and key workers during these really difficult days’.
Drivers doing their bit
The council drivers who usually transfer patients or pupils with special educational needs have also played their part, distributing 6,000 face masks, 4000 aprons and 100 bottles of hand sanitiser to local homes and care centres.
Ramadan Mubarak! So far, 15,000 items in total have been shipped out to our fantastic frontline staff.
In addition to their regular supply of fruit, snacks, drinks and toiletries, Sikh temple Shri Guru Ravidass Sangat delivered boxes of dates to staff observing Ramadan at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital.
The temple regularly donates to the L&D, police, fire service and shelters like Noah and Mary Seacole in response to the outbreak.
Thank you team, that’s what we call Luton In Harmony.
Support for our businesses
Just over 2,000 local businesses will benefit from the Small Business and Leisure, Retail and Hospitality grants
£15m worth of support has so far been issued.
Discover some of our everyday heroes
In the weeks before the NHS volunteers took over the distribution of food parcels, our teams got out more than 150 parcels to extremely vulnerable people in our town.
The team at Discover Islam have shared some incredible figures which show just how much they have given to the community over these difficult weeks.
- 15,000+ food items distributed
- 50+ organisations supported
- 10,000+ face masks and gloves sourced and distributed
This generous bunch have also found time to deliver treats and ‘thank yous’ to key workers across town, including the police, fire service, NHS workers and even our staff at The Vale Cemetery (pictured). To which we say a heartfelt: thank you!!!
In the weeks before the NHS volunteers took over the distribution of food parcels, our teams got out more than 150 parcels to extremely vulnerable people in our town.
Staff hit the phonelines
A team of staff who have been redeployed from their usual jobs are in the process of contacting thousands of vulnerable Luton residents to ensure they have the right support in place.
Chaul the midwife!
Chaul End Community Centre has been passed over to the NHS for their fantastic team of community midwives to hold pre and postnatal appointments. They are providing a fantastic service for our pregnant and new mums, it goes without saying, and we are delighted to help.
Helping you stay on top of your bills
Hundreds of people have applied for help to either delay their council tax payments or receive additional support with their finances through our reduction scheme.
- 412 new claims for council tax relief have been awarded
- we've made special arrangements with 1,905 residents struggling to pay their council tax bills
Last March we received 2,800 applications for Universal Credit. In one day in April 2020, we received more than 1,000!
Click here if you need financial support.
PPE lifeline for carers and keyworkers
Our procurement team has been working round the clock to secure PPE equipment to meet the shortfall from the welcomed deliveries from central government.
They have been helped by staff in Adult Social Care, who are working with care homes to establish their needs, and the Adult Learning Team (pictured) staff based in the warehouse from which equipment has been distributed to private and public care workers across the town.
Serving up help
Our catering team continue to serve meals to children still attending many of our schools, and are providing food boxes for families who have remained at home.
Pritesh and the team in the council’s Emergency Planning unit which has been central in coordinating the arrival of the PPE and food supplies from government and ensuring they reach the right destinations.
The team has been going to supermarkets in order to fetch supplies for vulnerable households while waiting for the government deliveries.
We’ve parked charges!
Parking charges which apply to all council owned car parks and on-street parking bays have been lifted.
We’re hoping this will help our key workers get to work with minimum stress.
Local businesses step up
- Leonardo has answered the call to make PPE to protect NHS staff and critical workers (pictured). Usually making helicopters, electronics and avionics they are using their engineering skills to produce protective face shields.
- Bell Packaging is now manufacturing PPE for NHS, pharmacies and retailers. Thank you, Bell!
- Jaltek is working on the production of vital medical equipment.
- From vans to ventilators for 22 Vauxhall staff, who are currently working on the Luton site of Smiths Medical. The staff were hand-picked from Vauxhall’s Kimpton Road Plant to help with significantly increasing production of Smiths ventilators for the NHS.
- EasyJet cabin crew are being retrained to work in new critical care hospitals.
Pedal power to NHS staff
Working with Thameslink, we've helped deliver 30 free bikes to Luton and Dunstable University Hospital.
Our sustainable transport bike recycling team will refurbish the bikes and make them roadworthy. Bedford Borough Council will then deliver them to hospital staff who'd like to use them.
Ashcroft makes a real difference
Staff and pupils at Ashcroft High School have been making vital protective headgear for those serving on the front line of the battle against coronavirus.
The Design and Technology Department at the school jumped at the chance to help after the call went out.
The school has donated four large boxes of protective goggles to Luton and Dunstable hospital, and work began immediately on the next batch of 150.
Headteacher Julie Clarke said the Ashcroft family is ‘it is fantastic to think that a small gesture on our part can make a difference to people’s lives’.
Luton Council’s chief executive extended his heartfelt thanks to the school and said it was ‘truly humbling to see how so many people are pulling together and doing what they can’.
Go the extra mile for the L&D
Luton Lions Running Club have challenged everyone to go the extra mile for the NHS each Sunday – even one mile would do!
You can walk, jog or run in your garden or front yard. You can do 2000 steps within your own home. You can do 20 minutes of walking or even include your daily exercise, it is really up to you how you do your mile.
Once you have completed your mile, donate £1 or more towards supporting health workers at your local hospital. Chief Executive Robin Porter and his son Jack are pictured right, completing their mile for the L&D.
Money will go towards wellbeing packs, an emergency hardship fund and accommodation costs for NHS staff and volunteers.
Nominate your friends and family to join in and share how did your mile for the NHS on the .
Team Luton Facebook page