Here’s your 5 a day…
Hajia Saidat Oketunde, a member of the South Bermondsey Partnership and holder of several high-profile community jobs in Southwark has since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic stepped up her community and volunteering activity even more. Hajia, known to her friends as Saidat says “At this time of crisis when everyone, especially women and children, are suffering, people like me who have the energy and inspiration must do more.”
Saidat is the Education Officer for her local mosque in Old Kent Road, runs her own charity called Faith Women’s Community UK and is secretary of her resident’s association.
At 6am every Thursday morning she can be found in Tesco on the Old Kent Road, as these pictures show, and through the generosity of the manager loads up her trolley and then heads to a quiet part of the supermarket to split up the essentials into bags to hand out to households who are elderly or vulnerable. “Ensuring these residents have their 5 a day essential foodstuff is vital to keep them going through this pandemic.”
Saidat and her team are mindful of the social isolation policy and always knock, leave the food parcels by the front door and step back to wait for the household to open the door and exchange a few cheery words before moving on to the next recipient.
Saidat works closely with Southwark Council, the leaders at the Mosque, her local tenants and residents and she particularly notes the support she receives from the South Bermondsey Partnership. After COVID her plan is to carry on working with the Partnership to resume her various popular programmes such as ‘Get Fit Feel Fit’, a women’s’ sports development project, dance classes, gymnastics classes and evening table tennis sessions for young people.
However, one thing she will not stop is her friendly regular phone calls to those who are housebound and have now got used to hearing her voice once or twice a week. Peole like Florence who said she was especially grateful to Saidat for helping her solve a problem with her electric bill.
Saidat has lost count of the number of calls she makes and the amount of food she delivers on behalf of Southwark Council and the members of the Mosque – for whom she delivers culturally sensitive food.
“Since COVID, it’s probably hundreds, if not nearing a thousand. I enjoy it, my team enjoys it. We get a real buzz from helping other people. After all we never know when it will be our turn to receive our 5 a day from volunteers like us. That’s why we must all unite and pull together.”
Fortune favours the Brave
Just two days after the Prime Minister relaxed the lockdown rules allowing more people to gather outside of their homes, once more, saw the senior citizens of Astley Cooper Tenants & Residents Association, ably led by South Bermondsey Partnership stalwart rep Leila Malki, meet for a very civilised cup of afternoon tea, cakes and a good old natter in the aptly named Unity Court Square Gardens.
The weather forecasters had predicted cool weather with a strong possibility of rain but it did not deter people, including an original Estate resident Clara aged 86. ‘A little bit of rain never puts me off getting out and about. I couldn’t wait to get into the fresh air with my friends.’
And fortune, on this occasion, certainly favoured the brave as Leila and Clara were joined in the bright sunshine by Rita, also in her 80’s, Sharon, Betty, Felicia, Pauline, Karen, and others to enjoy homemade treats cooked and served up by Leila, chair of the tenant’s association and Partnership rep.
Leila said “I’ve been holding events such as afternoon teas for five years, half a decade, to serve our community. After the complete lifting of COVID19, and thanks to funding from South Bermondsey Partnership, I plan to start bingo evenings in the hall, to re-start my week-end holiday programmes and the gardening group. These events mean residents of whatever age and circumstances can come together, bond together, and as the covid pandemic has shown, support each other in times of greatest need. We are family here at Astley Cooper. We are a team on the South Bermondsey Partnership and long may that continue.”
If you want to make a difference by improving your local area, helping build up a community spirit where you live, please contact Paul Kyriacou, chair of the South Bermondsey Partnership or Dora the Community Engagement Worker on tel: 07939 53 76 42.
Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Paul Kyriacou, chairman of the South Bermondsey Partnership has issued the following statement …
In line with government advice on Covid-19, the Big Local Works at 4 Market Place, has taken the decision to temporarily close and staff are no longer offering a face-to-face or telephone advice service.
I am therefore sharing the information below from Citizens Advice Southwark should anyone need help or assistance with a wide range of advice as detailed below:-
Advice and Assistance to local residents
Citizens Advice Southwark – We’re here to help in times of crisis
We are working hard to support local residents throughout the Coronavirus outbreak.
We know that in this difficult time, many of Southwark’s residents will be facing challenges when it comes to job security, limited income, access to welfare benefits, paying their fuel bills and much more.
We want to reassure you that, while we have had to suspend our face to face sessions until further notice, our advisers are now working remotely and are still here to provide as much support as possible in this time of crisis.
To give people even more opportunity to contact us our phone service has been expanded to 08.00 to 18.00 on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and 08.00 to 19.00 on Tuesday
People can reach us in the following ways:
Adviceline 0344 499 4134
Help to Claim (Universal Credit support) 0800 144 8 444
Online help for people struggling with Coronavirus
Extensive advice regarding Coronavirus with details of relevant changes to welfare benefits, support available to those in employment, those who are self-employed, and those who are struggling to pay their bills can be found on the following links:
What you can do if your employer has told you not to work
What to do if you are self-employed and your income has dropped because of Coronavirus
What different benefits might be available if you are affected by the Coronavirus situation
Information about scams, paying your bills (including rent), money problems as a result of Coronavirus, and claiming benefits
Information for people who are struggling to pay things like rent, mortgage or energy bills because of Coronavirus
For more information about our services see our website https://www.citizensadvicesouthwark.org.uk/ or see us on Twitter @SouthwarkCAB
Wishing you all the very best, and stay safe
All at Citizens Advice Southwark
Citizen Advice Southwark, 8 Market Place,
Southwark Park Road, SE16 3UQ