Acton community spirit resolute in face of Coronavirus crisis

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The South Acton area has long been well-known for the strength of its community spirit, and as the famous quote goes, “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it”.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has placed enormous strain on everybody’s lives, the crisis has also demonstrated the community spirit that runs strong in this area of west London.

Residents at Acton Gardens, the 52-acre regeneration of the former South Acton estate being delivered by Countryside and L&Q, have pulled together in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, forming a mutual aid group that supports elderly and vulnerable members of the community through a network of volunteers.

Acton Gardens resident Shereen Serry has lived in the area since 2007, initially on the South Acton estate, before moving into a new home at Acton Gardens. When she realised that a mutual aid group didn’t exist at Acton Gardens, she set up a WhatsApp group and was amazed when over 150 people joined in the space of a few days.

The group, which has been operating for all of April, works in unison with young people and staff from the Bollo Brook Youth Centre in receiving supplies from the Felix Project, a food distribution charity, every Tuesday and Thursday.

The volunteers have made use of the local facilities available at Acton Gardens, where a brand-new community centre and youth centre was opened last summer. The food is dropped off at the Acton Gardens community centre, and then sorted by a small group of volunteers, working carefully to respect social distancing rules.

Following this, drivers arrive to collect the supplies, and distribute them locally to people in need.

So far, the group is helping a large number of residents, including elderly people and residents with health or financial difficulties.

Shereen and the group have ambitions to go further and are planning a food service with chefs preparing meals in advance for people. They are also in talks with local shops about additional food donations. Shereen Serry said: “The community has really come together at such a frightening time. We know there are many elderly and vulnerable neighbours amongst us and we want everyone to feel they have someone they can reach out too. Together we can achieve so much.’’

Countryside has also been actively supporting the community where it can. Following the pausing of construction works, Countryside ensured that all of the remaining food from the site canteen did not go to waste.

Instead, staff from Phase 6 of the development worked with the community liaison officer to distribute the stock, worth an estimated £600, to local food charities and vulnerable people.

While this has undoubtedly been a hugely challenging period for many people, we’re proud to operate in such a close-knit area. The need for community-driven developments has been etched into our DNA for over 60 years and Acton Gardens is a prime example of when a community really comes together at a time of need.

Volunteer door drops