Bubblesqueakeat CIC, based in Hammersmith and Fulham, was awarded close to £75,000 by the HS2 Community and Environment Fund to run their ‘Creating Futures through Bubble & Squeak’ project to provide the local community with healthy, affordable food all while building skills and confidence of local people.
The original project idea was to invite children and adult volunteers to run a surplus food stall where the local community could shop for fresh healthy produce at a very low cost in order to teach volunteers enterprise skills, healthy lifestyles and money management.
The project also aimed to cook a free, three course meal for local residents to enable the local community to come together, socialise and share a meal followed by bingo, children and adults planting in the community garden or an arts and craft activity.
Alongside this, Bubblesqueakeat CIC planned to run after school and weekend activities including a STEM Club (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), healthy meals sessions and after school art sessions with local artists where children were given the opportunity to create public art pieces.
Since Covid-19 restrictions have been put in place, Bubblesqueakeat CIC have worked incredibly hard to change and adapt their plans to ensure that local people were still looked after and supported during the pandemic.
Lydia from Bubblesqueakeat CIC tells us more.
“Being the only support for food situated on our local estate, our services have proved vital during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Since the first lockdown, we have provided twice weekly food packages to people in need throughout the local community. Not only does this mean we know that vulnerable people have enough food, but also gives us the opportunity to check in on residents who may be shielding and also to see if those we deliver to are in need of additional services.
“On average we have been supporting at least two extra families each month that has risen to an additional six in November when the second national lockdown was introduced.
“Our food packages consist of a range of healthy fresh produce and dried food and we tailor our packages to the number of people in each household. We have developed close positive relationships to those who we provide food for and have found out what food they enjoy, therefore aiming to ensure food does not go to waste.
“In addition to this, we also have residents who ‘drop in’ to pick up food. For some this will be their only trip out or interaction, as many are older mobile residents. Our current volunteer has a lovely relationship with the residents who drop in to pick up food weekly and she often saves the items she knows they want. We have also maintained close links with Old Oak
Primary School and Old Oak Centre who use us as a first point of call for referrals to other services if necessary.
“We have worked with our younger residents to put together care packages for our older residents. The children have supported us to deliver some of the care packages that has helped their understanding that many local people are in need. Because of this, the children created their own ‘Bubble and Squeak’ cups and put other items such as masks, tea and biscuits as part of a care package. They also individually wrote letters to the older residents on the estate to which many sent back ‘thank you’ cards. We hope to keep up this dialogue between young and older and the children are currently planning to create a Christmas pack for older residents also.
“We have received thanks from the local community, including one person who said ‘Well done for teaching children about caring for others and the importance of not wasting food. You are really laying the foundations for the future of our society’ – which was such an amazing compliment to have.
“To support the wellbeing of the local community, we have distributed activities related to the sessions we had originally planned to run. We have offered art packs, science activities and ‘food box’ style recipe kits. We are also running online arts and craft sessions for both children and families and have held competitions through social media to engage residents.
“We will soon be working with a local artist who will be delivering Zoom workshops encouraging residents to visually document how they have adapted to life during Covid-19. This will culminate in an online exhibition that will be open and promoted to the wider community and beyond entitled ‘Inside Lockdown’. We have also collaborated with other organisations such as Hammersmith and Fulham Art Fest to promote and engage local residents in the pop up arts festival and other outdoor, socially distanced community events such as a mini circus or storyteller.
“As part of our project, we have also created a local ‘happy news only’ newspaper called ‘The East Acton Times’. The newspaper was delivered to 1000 households as well as an online version. Being bombarded with uncertainty and negative stories in the media the residents were naturally, feeling overwhelmed and the newspaper was a refreshing publication that only shared good news to lift spirits and spread positivity.
“We aim to continue to work in this format providing face to face and online support for as long as the community needs us to. We will listen to the voices of our locality and will redirect our support where necessary.”