Written by Clare Caro
On the 23rd March 2020, everything stopped as the country went into lockdown. We were bereft as we are normally so engaged with our community. With people panic buying, our usual surplus food donations from Tesco ground to a halt. All of us were worried about how to get our toilet roll!
We ummmed and arrrhhhhed quite a bit and then came up with a plan. Within the first few days of not working, an email from "Neighbourly" dropped into our inbox offering small grants for charities and community organistions, to support people affected by the Lockdown. We quickly applied for this grant and within a week had recieved the money.
We decided that the best way to use this money was to buy food. We linked this to our Fill Yer Boots project and worked with schools and local volunteers to get boxes of food for Easter to families.
Another, bigger grant from Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation also came through to support our work to deliver surplus food. It enabled us to expand our food delivery to three schools, where we already have connections. There is currently an abundance of surplus food at Tesco that we pick up 4 or 5 times a week and distribute to families.
Dig for Rutland!
It is fortunate that visiting allotments has been allowed during this lockdown. We have been sowing hundreds of seeds at home for our own gardens and our three community growing spaces. Following discussions with Head Teachers, we have been caring for the growing spaces in two schools. Both primary schools in Uppingham have allotment beds that we have been clearing and getting food into the ground, ready for picking and eating this summer.
We are grateful to local folk for donating plants, seeds and tools for our projects.
Rutland Voluntary Sector Connections
We are really fortunate to have such strong networks within the voluntary sector. There have been weekly Zoom meetings with others working in the community during this time and we have managed to discuss potential and exisiting projects and ideas for the benefit of our Rutland community.
On a beautiful sunny day in November 2019, we were delighted to host The High Sheriff. Fully prepared in wellies and warm clothes Margaret Miles was introduced to the forest school ethos with Uppingham C of E Primary School group. The children made sure our visitor was welcomed and knew how to walk around the fire circle, which trees you can climb, where the swings and dens were and shared their play and creations.
We received this email after her visit:
Dear Alex and Claire,
Thank you so much for letting me join you and the school pupils in Belton on Monday.
It was a real treat to meet the children who without doubt enjoyed the freedom to simply ‘play in the woods’ and the opportunity to learn about different countryside activities. They were all full of enthusiasm throughout the visit and so keen to share their learning with me.The learning opportunities that you provide, as well as giving them time for unstructured play , is impressive.
Thank you both for your hard work and dedication, to a cause that is so invaluable for our young people of Rutland.
I hope to catch you again at the Rutland Farm Park on a Wednesday.
Very best wishes