"People are finding ways of coming together"

Somers Town Community Association was awarded funding through the London Community Response portal to address the risks of isolation within their community during the Covid-19 pandemic. But this funding, from funds from the National Emergencies Trust, has also helped young people understand the Black Lives Matter movement now that lockdown meant they weren’t able to discuss it at school or face-to-face with friends.

Somers Town Community Association in South Camden is a local hub in one of London’s most diverse areas. Ordinarily, the organisation would deliver a range of projects including a Job Club, youth activities and a community cafe open during weekdays. The funding they received helped enable them to continue to support the community during lockdown by moving a range of their projects online such as employment support and virtual lunches for older people.

"Being truly part of the community is like having lots of extended family on your doorstep," says Sarah Elie, Executive Director Somers Town Community Association. "In different times our youth groups, older persons services, community café and our Story Garden were an opportunity to come together to share or forget your woes, to meet with friends or make new ones.  

Covid-19 has taken that away for now. It has stretched barely balanced household incomes, placed children in a home learning environment and increased the isolation of those most vulnerable in society."

Somers Town Community Association also used some of the grant to purchase laptops which were then lent to families to support their children's home schooling.  The equipment could then also be used to take part in a variety of projects such as online advice and support, exercise classes and cook-offs with other local youth clubs.

"It has enabled additional support to be provided to those families who desperately needed our projects," said Sarah.

The world was then rocked by the news of George Floyd's death which led to an outpouring of grief and anger across the world - including in our City. Lockdown meant that young people struggled to express their feelings among their friendship groups around George Floyd’s death and so Somers Town Community Association was able to encourage young people to use the IT to discuss it using their new laptops despite their isolation from one another.

"People are finding ways of coming together. The funding we were so pleased to receive has enabled young people to have access to IT and, at a critically important time, raise their voices in a chorus of support for Black Lives Matter, whilst also allowing them to talk through how it has made them feel. Thank you so much."