Thousands of food packages delivered to Berkshire village through pandemic with help from SSEN funding

Above image shows volunteers from Colnbrook Cares taking a break in between packing the food boxes they deliver to families across their Berkshire community

A kind-hearted community group has been able to deliver over 7,000 free food packages to homes in Slough’s Colnbrook village, during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and current lockdown, with help from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) funding. 

Colnbrook Cares was founded in early 2020 after a group of residents identified the need for more coordinated support in their community, to help those worst affected by the developing pandemic and facing vulnerability and isolation. 

The group of twenty volunteers quickly set up their official community care unit in response to Colnbrook’s needs and successfully applied to SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund; receiving a £3,000 award in the spring to enable them to establish their support centre and food distribution scheme. 

Since then, the group has used its spare time and the funding from SSEN to help source, box and distribute much-needed food packages; delivering to 100 homes three times a week during peak periods and setting aside additional packages that were used to help those isolating celebrate occasions such as VE Day and Christmas Day, with notes to remind people that they aren’t alone during difficult times. 

Colnbrook Cares continues to support its community through the ongoing pandemic and latest lockdown, and is in the process of forming a constitution that will ensure Colnbrook has a formal group to provide resilience for residents in any situation that impacts their village in years to come. Their ongoing voluntary work has also helped support the efforts of other local organisations, Slough Council for Voluntary Service and Slough Outreach. 

Chair of Colnbrook Cares, Puja Bedi said: 

“We knew there was a need for more support for Colnbrook’s more vulnerable residents, and the assistance from villagers and SSEN meant we were able to act quickly; leaflet dropping every home in our community to let them know we were there to help. Recipients of our food packages either got in touch with us through the leaflet drop, or were recommended by St Thomas’ Church, or through other residents who were aware that a neighbour, friend or family member needed our help. 

“Colnbrook Village Hall provided the hub we needed, along with a kitchen, storage area and prep space, and from there we were able to give hope and sustenance to many vulnerable Colnbrook residents. 

“This has all been achieved through volunteers and donations, and we are particularly grateful to SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund for their award which has enabled us to support our community.” 

Anthony Urquhart, SSEN’s Head of Region, said: 

“Colnbrook Cares is a fantastic community-led initiative supporting those in vulnerable situations. The scale of the volunteers’ efforts is testament to how much a small group of people can achieve when they know how much their community is relying on their help. 

“I’m proud and happy that, through SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund, we have been able to play a small part in helping them achieve this.” 

SSEN repurposed its Resilient Communities Fund, making £320,000 available to support local efforts to help those most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic. Successful applicants from community, parish, town and borough councils were awarded up to £3,000 each for projects that supported vulnerable community members, enabled volunteers to support community coronavirus initiatives, provide PPE to vulnerable and frontline workers, run community befriending schemes and improve community communication. 

Since its launch in 2015, SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund has provided over £2.7 million to 538 local community projects to build resilience and protect those most vulnerable. The criteria for the fund in 2020 was changed following consultation with SSEN stakeholder groups, who strongly supported opening the fund early and targeting coronavirus response.

To learn more about SSEN’s repurposed Resilient Communities Fund, please click here.