When single mum Lexie* ran out of money while she was self-isolating during the pandemic, she was facing real financial hardship.
She had a small child to care for but no food in the house and no money for gas or electricity. Her next Universal Credit payment was not due until the end of the month and the outlook was bleak. Fortunately, a friend told Lexie to email Merton Community Hub.
Hundreds of people who have been thrown a lifeline by Merton Community Hub
Within hours, Lexie had been referred to Thinking Works – a community organisation, which supports people struggling to pay for energy. She was given fuel vouchers to top up her gas and electricity. A further referral to Wimbledon Guild led to an emergency cash grant for essentials and a food parcel from Wimbledon Foodbank.
Lexie is just one of hundreds of people who have been thrown a lifeline by Merton Community Hub since it was set up for those struggling as a result of self-isolation or shielding during the pandemic.
Jointly run by the Wimbledon Guild and Age UK Merton, alongside Merton Connected, and commissioned and funded by Merton Council, the hub has played a vital part in the borough’s community response to the pandemic. The council is keen for the hub to continue to have a key role in supporting Merton residents beyond the pandemic.
Switchboard teams at the Wimbledon Guild and Age UK co-ordinate the hub’s response to calls and emails between 10am and 4pm, from Monday to Friday, putting callers in touch with a range of voluntary organisations. These include Merton Community Fridge and the Dons Local Action Group. People find out about the hub through posters in shops and supermarkets, the council’s Covid newsletters and a newly-launched website.
We really want to help people with ongoing solutions as well as crisis solutions
Even as the pandemic begins to recede, the hub is still getting around 50 calls a week. Many of the callers have long term health needs.
“As well as helping people who are self-isolating, we support people with financial problems, loneliness and isolation, staying independent at home, and issues with mental health around Covid-19,” says hub coordinator Shelby Finch.
We really want to help people with ongoing solutions as well as crisis solutions.”
“We really want to help people with ongoing solutions as well as crisis solutions. In Lexie’s case, for instance, the immediate support helped her to provide a warm home, food, and other necessities for herself and her child in a period of difficulty.
“We supported her to book an appointment with Citizens Advice. We hope that this will provide longer-term solutions for her current financial and debt difficulties.”
Find out more
You can find out more about Merton Community Hub