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Featured Cause January 2021

Operation CommUNITY

Operation CommUNITY was set up as a response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

It is a partnership with The NHS, Herts Help and East Herts Council supporting vulnerable people across the Stort Valley Primary Care Network (PCN) which takes in Bishop’s Stortford, Sawbridgeworth and the Hadhams.

But its aims are wider than the immediate pandemic and there are ambitious plans to extend its reach with wider community projects in the pipeline for 2021.

Operation CommUNITY has brought together local charities and organisations such as Age Concern, The Salvation Army, Bishop’s Wellbeing, Food Bank, Night Shelter, Citizens Advice East Herts, St Claire Hospice, Reengage, The Welbeloved Club, Grove Cottage and many more groups/services in town and village locations to support the most vulnerable members of the community.

To date, we have delivered 4059 meals, 1062 shopping trips and errands, 1050 care packages and managed over 4500+ calls offering befriending, advice and guidance.

“So far, our 160-plus volunteers have collectively delivered over 7500 hours of support, excluding additional staff hours and behind the scenes admin support!” said Zara Skidmore who co-founded the organisation with Simon Marlow, Social Prescriber Stort Valley and Villages PCN.

From the end of January Bishop’s Wellbeing – an offshoot of the core operation – will focus on delivering existing support services while Operation CommUNITY plans to extend its reach with further ambitious projects including mental health support, a centralised referral system and a community wellbeing and gardening site where people come together and reconnect with nature.

“We currently provide mobility services from a town centre shop (next to Jackson Square car park) and this will become the Bishops Wellbeing Hub –  a place to pop into for a chat, advice and support,” said Zara.

“Moving forward with our plans for a community wellbeing and gardening project, we hope to encompass opportunities to purchase locally sourced goods, makes and ecological products and to open a café on-site with all profits reinvested into our community services.

“But being a small independent not-for-profit organisation, all of our services rely heavily on  generous grants and funding to cover the costs of development, training and delivery, so we are actively seeking further funding to make our 2021 plans a reality.


About the author

Luisa Gatward

Our Head of Operations, Luisa is responsible for the smooth running of all operations including marketing and partner relationships. Having started working for TheGivingMachine in 2010, she has seen our Charity grow and develop into what we have today.

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