The way we all work has been hugely affected by the pandemic, especially in our community relations team, where many of our projects have been cancelled or postponed. We’re no longer able to hold in-person training which means we’ve had to adapt our community projects to ensure residents’ safety.
Early last year we were successful in winning a bid for £10,000 which was given to the L&Q Place Makers Fund so that it could run a roaming digital support hub to offer online support to residents. This would have included help with paying bills and online shopping, but sadly due to Covid-19 this wasn’t possible.
Instead of letting this funding go unused we needed to think about something else we could do with the money. Since March of last year we’ve been working very closely with Catbytes – a Lewisham-based community interest company. They take donated tech and devices from Lewisham residents, wipe them, fix them and loan them out to families who are unable to afford them, or who don’t have enough devices at home to work through lockdown.
Our team met with Catbytes and found that they had an issue. They were struggling with a huge influx of requests (over 500) and the administration needed to maintain the project was faltering. To help them with this we put together a proposal for L&Q, asking them to redirect the £10,000 funding to Catbytes so they could hire a full-time administrator for three months, and buy more equipment to wipe devices.
We’re pleased to report that after a couple of weeks it was agreed that the money would be given to Catbytes. This meant we were able to maintain the sum of the grant, and we were able to help a local Lewisham organisation whose team is working hard to provide something brilliant for our residents.
What this shows is that we can look at what we have and not just dismiss it because of the pandemic, but instead look at how we can change and adapt. Because we were able to do this, more of our families can get online and get the digital support they need.