In the middle of March, as our country began to lockdown with mass stock-piling of toilet roll and groceries, closures of pubs and restaurants and amidst an increasingly worrying death-toll, we were already deep into our Corona Virus emergency response at First Days. We sent out thousands of nappies, wipes and other toiletries to families all over the country who were in desperate need as a result of the escalating crisis, whilst also contingency planning for whatever was coming next.
At this time, Wokingham Borough Council (the local authority in which we are based) was convening charity leaders to work out how we could best respond as a community. It was becoming clear that access to food was going to be a huge issue for people, along with delivery of prescriptions and the potential for loneliness, isolation and mental ill health as a result of any sort of lockdown. The race was on to get services in place to ensure that everyone was fed, safe and cared for.
One of things I have always loved about the voluntary sector is our ability to be agile and mobilise quickly in response to a crisis. We all rapidly took to our feet and played to our strengths - at First Days this is, quite simply, getting things to people who need them. We, like so many businesses in the pandemic, took our skills and pivoted towards what people needed: we had a food distribution hub set up in a matter of days. A project that would normally take months to plan was up and running and delivering food to people who needed it within a week. It took a lot of work and exceptionally long hours, but we did it: In just one week we had sourced premises, food supplies, established new data systems, bought t-shirts, made ID badges, kitted out the venue, written policies and assessed the endless risks associated with a new service in a global pandemic.