We would like to reassure you that Small Acts of Kindness is still very much “open for business” during the Covid-19 pandemic – albeit in a slightly adapted way.

We thought that you might like to know what we are doing to support some of the most vulnerable older people in our community at this time.

We are also sharing with you our plans for the weeks and months ahead.

The negative impact that loneliness and isolation can bring to the physical and mental wellbeing of older people during this pandemic is never far from our minds at Small Acts of Kindness. Nor is the positive difference that small acts of kindness can make. The news, our social media timelines and our families and friends are a constant reminder of the incredible kindness that is currently connecting communities and the huge impact this is having on each of us – directly and indirectly. It is helping to reduce loneliness and isolation across the community

“We believe we can reduce loneliness and isolation for older people by connecting communities with kindness.”

Warm in Winter gift bags

At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, we took the decision to offer our support alongside co-ordinated and strategic activities such as those being undertaken by key organisations across Hertfordshire. We believe working together in partnership is the best way to make sure that as many people as possible, receive the support they need in all parts of their lives, in a timely, joined up and effective way, without duplication of resources and services.

Therefore, we have made 800 of our of our Warm in Winter gift bags available during this time as they complement many of the other valuable support activities taking place. The feedback that we have had to this has been very positive indeed.

One Councillor who delivered one of our bags in response to phone calls being made to older residents told us, “I was dropping them round to residents this morning and even while I stood at the other end of their garden path I could sense how much it cheered them up!”

Delivering cooked meals

Every Saturday a wonderful team of volunteers deliver over 300 delicious meals cooked by The Grove Hotel to vulnerable families and older people in the local community and key workers at Watford and Hemel Hospitals

This project is an amazing partnership between Small Acts of Kindness, The Grove, Watford & West Herts Chamber of Commerce, Watford & West Herts Chamber of Conscience and charity Home Start Watford & Three Rivers.

Over 70 older people receive a meal each week – for some, it is the only hot dinner they have all week. Not only do they enjoy the tasty meal, they really appreciate knowing that they are not forgotten, and that people care.

We are proud to be part of this great community project.

One recipient told us, “Thank you Small Acts of Kindness for my dinner and sweets, delivered to my door…someone cares xx”

Sharing our expertise

In the five years since we began our work, we have gained a huge amount of expertise in sourcing and distributing over 25,000 acts of kindness, managing volunteers and engaging with vulnerable older people. During Covid-19 we are sharing this knowledge and expertise with organisations across the County who are undertaking wide-reaching community support projects.

Wherever we can, we are sharing our networks with them and helping them source much needed supplies.

Signposting older people to the support that they need

We are receiving calls every day from older people who are finding that they need additional help and support – from shopping to phone calls. We are making sure that each and every caller is signposted to support that is available in their area. Now, more than ever, digital isolation and lack of digital literacy is having a big impact on older people being able to find the support they need. We are happy that we are here to help.

Small Acts of Kindness Covid-19 Wellbeing Rescue Gift Bags

We are working in partnership with Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust’s Mental Health Liaison Team based at Watford Hospital to source and distribute Wellbeing Rescue Gift Bags for patients admitted and then later discharged by the team.

The bags will contain an essential emergency food supplies pack, a self-care pack with toiletries and a wellbeing pack containing items such as adult colouring/puzzles, a pack of cards, felt tip pens, a plant, a fidget spinner and notebook. Each of these packs will have accompanying information sheets to provide additional support and signposting to further activities and services.

We are delighted to be working on this project which will help reduce loneliness and isolation during these challenging times and connect communities with kindness.

Looking ahead

Whilst no-one can say with certainty how long the current isolation/distancing will continue, we are hoping that there will be more freedom for us all as soon as this is permitted by the Government. With this in mind, we are planning, as we usually do at this time of year, for the winter ahead when we hope, once again to source and distribute up to 10,000 Warm in Winter gift bags and 500 Celebrate Christmas gift bags to vulnerable, often lonely and isolated older people across Hertfordshire.

We will continue to work closely with our partners and stakeholders and ensure that our processes for packing and distribution will be in accordance with whatever restrictions, if any, are in place.

Challenges that we face

Stock

Our suppliers have told us to expect major interruptions to the supply chain for many of the items we include in our bags and increases in prices.

To try and mitigate this, we have been sourcing stock that is left over and with suppliers from this winter (2019/20).

We have already bought some stock and have other items sourced and  ready to be purchased subject to securing additional funding to support these costs.

Funding

We are sourcing and buying stock at a time of the year when we would usually be making funding applications for our project delivery for the winter ahead.

Each of the additional 800 Warm in Winter gift bags that we have made available during the Covid-19 pandemic costs £25 to source and distribute.

Inevitably, without additional funding this will deplete our reserves and then ultimately impact on our ability to fund our operational costs too.

We are working hard to maintain our fundraising strategy and secure income to support our ongoing costs over the weeks and months ahead.

These are challenging times for most charities and Small Acts of Kindness is no exception.

To be able to deliver our activities, as planned, we need to raise a further £80,000 before the end of our financial year 31 December 2020.

We welcome all donations that will help us ensure that we can make a difference to some of the most vulnerable older people in our community

We are thankful and hugely appreciative to all our supporters for all the funding support that we have received so far during the Covid-19 pandemic.