Ludlow has long been the home of Hands Together community meals. These were lunch clubs, open to all for a cheap, nutritious meal (£3.50 for 2 courses!) and getting to know your neighbours. However, once Covid hit these communal gatherings had to be stopped for the safety of volunteers and attendees – meanwhile a growing number of people were struggling to access food.
In a remarkably speedy community response to the challenges of coronavirus, Pulling Together Ludlow was formed as a coalition of groups in Ludlow, including the Portcullis and Station Drive GPs, Hands Together Ludlow and the Pulling Together Ludlow Facebook group. They mobilised people and resources at an astonishing rate and were up and running within two weeks!
The food delivery arm was created as one of the support services offered. Home cooked meals are delivered twice a week to people who are vulnerable or isolating, currently serving about 40 people. They also delivered meals to families on free school meals, before the government brought in the summer holiday voucher scheme.
Changing their operations completely to work on an emergency basis, adapting to Covid regulations and co-ordinating with social services, doctors, schools, the local food bank and voluntary groups wasn’t easy – they also had a lack of volunteers as so many had to isolate. A new group of over 100 volunteers under the Pulling Together banner stepped in to help.
The local community also stepped up in other ways, with lots of donations to keep them going, which have been very gratefully received. They’ve also been working to make sure people are signposted to the correct help and services they need. Their befriending team and delivery drivers formed close bonds with their regulars, stopping for a (distanced) chat and helping people stay connected over lockdown.
As times move on, Hands Together Ludlow is looking to the future. They’re planning to start charging a small fee for their food to cover the costs and hope to begin resuming some of their pre-Covid services again as and when it is safe to do so. As many of their volunteers have to return to work, so they’re hoping more people will be interested in joining them.
If you’d like to find out more about Hands Together Ludlow and how you can get involved visit https://www.handstogetherludlow.org.uk/ or find them on Facebook.