Let's hear it for our community heroes - Luton Council

The chief executive of Luton Council, Robin Porter, has paid tribute to the ‘awe-inspiring’ work of voluntary and charity groups across the town during the covid- 19 emergency.

​Robin visited just some of the incredible groups working hard to support our community last week. But he 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, Go Dharmic, Diverse FM, Inspire FM, Luton Urban Radio, Lantern Ladies, Al Hikmah and Challney High schools, Safer Luton Partnership and countless more helping with shopping, hot meals and support for both our key workers and our most vulnerable.
 
He 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 (see below) and teamed up with the Visiting Superheroes, who have been visiting children having trouble with anxiety and depression and raising money for the NHS.
 
You can read more about a whole range of inspirational work taking place across the town on our #LutonTogether page.
 
“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.

“We learn about new schemes, acts of kindness and fundraising drives every single day and I would like to send my honest and heartfelt thanks to every single person who is helping to make a difference during this crisis.
 
“It would be impossible to visit every incredible group in person given the sheer scale of the effort here in Luton. But through the visits and calls I have made, I hope to have shone an even brighter light on some of these amazing teams.”
 
Cllr Jacqui Burnett took over the role of portfolio holder for communities earlier this month. She said: “Despite the pain and heartache this disease is causing, this is also a truly inspirational time to be taking on my new role. It has shown how absolutely integral community is to our sense of belonging.
 
“Luton has a wealth of community spirit. We have shown that again and again, and this emergency is no exception.
 
“If you are involved with, or know of, a project in your area please do get in touch as we would like to continue to highlight the amazing work taking place here via our #LutonTogether campaign.”
 
“Our town has a united spirit”
Discover Islam, with their base in Upper George Street, has provided funding for more than 10,000 protective visors for the NHS – which have been produced by Chiltern Academy, raised £25,000 to buy food for Luton Foodbank, sourced and delivered hundreds of Ramadan food parcels, supported Age Concern, served thousands of hot meals, and supported work with Level Trust through Education Packs – amongst many other things.
 
 
Sufian Sadiq, Trustee of the Discover Islam Centre, said: “We want to thank the community for their support and contribution – their generous donations and support from dozens of selfless volunteers has truly enabled us to help the vulnerable and needy across our town.

“We have been working with some fantastic partners - Luton Foodbank, Age Concern, The Level Trust, Diverse FM, Inspire FM, Lantern, Crisis Aid are some of the many organisations we have been working with that have been providing an amazing service with compassion to those in need.
 
“Our town has a united spirit at this extremely difficult time; coming together, living and working as one community to make sure nobody goes hungry.”
 
Teamwork at Chaul End
The council’s Chaul End Community Centre is now home to an eatery delivering free meals to those most in need, a nursery for the children of key workers and a team of midwives from the Luton and Dunstable Hospital.
 
More than 2,500 hot meals have so far been served by Chaul End Eatery’s community kitchen. Partnering up with other organisations and businesses such as Lantern Ladies, Bradley Road Stores and Mosque and Discover Islam has allowed the impact of their tasty hot deliveries to be felt far and wide across the town.
 
Manager Shagufta Anwar said: “Our community really has come together to help as many people as we can. It’s impossible for one group to look after everybody, so teamwork has been the key.
 
“The support the council has given my kitchen – providing the space to work in and help where I need it – has been invaluable. Once this is all over we must all continue to work on these amazing partnerships we have formed.”
 
Just down the corridor, Tracey, Avelina and their team of midwives are busy ensuring mothers-to-be and their new arrivals have the care they need at such a crucial time. They were offered the space at Chaul End Community Centre to ensure they could continue to deliver their essential service in a safe space.
Midwifery Matron Tracey Scivier said: “The need to reconfigure the way in which we deliver our service over a matter of days was supported wholly by the council team who have welcomed us with flexibility and a helpful ‘can do’ attitude that has helped the midwives feel a member of the wider community during these difficult times.
 
“We are hopeful that as time moves on we can continue to work together in the future.”

Supporting wellbeing at home
The Safer Luton Partnership is supporting as many elderly and vulnerable people as possible through this crisis and, as such, is coordinating the work of the African Caribbean Health and Wellbeing Clubs as a priority.
 
Joan Bailey, Director of the Safer Luton Partnership, said: “We immediately mobilised our volunteers and put in a befriending service making sure that we called clients on a regular basis, but no less than once a week. We are currently delivering a service to 138 people.

“For those who have no one to talk to we do a weekly tea and chat. The calls help us to identify issues and concerns, help with anxiety and depression and manage the mental health of those we are working with.
 
“We would like to thank Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation who have supported us with funding to deliver this service.”
 
The partnership is also helping with shopping, cooking and delivering hot meals, collecting medication via the SOS Bus (captured in the video here) and providing access to online or CD-based exercise.
 
Read more about the inspirational work taking place across the town on our #LutonTogether page.
We know there are even more people doing amazing work out there. Please do send details of schemes you are involved in, or aware of, to pressoffice@luton.gov.uk.
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