The founder of a voluntary organisation that helps families in need with food and friendship has been nominated by the council leader as a lockdown hero one year on from Covid-19.
Tracey Davis was nominated by Councillor Hamida Ali for BBC Radio London’s Make A Difference, which is interviewing a Londoner in each borough who has gone the extra mile to support others in the pandemic.
Just over a year after the first lockdown, Tracey’s interview aired on Thursday evening about the work of her organisation Guiding Hands. Based in Selhurst with around 20 volunteers, it started out in 2011 offering face-to-face cookery lessons called Foodie Fridays and a mini-market for local families on low incomes or Universal Credit. After the pandemic hit in March 2020, this switched to home deliveries and online cookery lessons, and the number of families it helped rose from 16 to 80 a week.
Throughout the pandemic Guiding Hands, which also featured on this month’s Comic Relief, has supplied a weekly food box with around £50 worth of groceries costing parents £7.50, with food provided by names including Sainsbury’s, Greggs, Coughlan’s Bakery and Tesco.
Tracey said: “When the pandemic hit, we could not do it socially anymore, so we changed to just having deliveries. What we found was a lot of our mums who we had not heard from for a year or two were coming back. They had lost their jobs and they would say ‘is Guiding Hands still doing Foodie Friday?’ It was very busy, and very harrowing. Hopefully we can all go back to being social in the coming months with our programme.
“We have expanded who we deliver to; we do families, vulnerable adults and referrals through social services and other agencies. The system we have in place works for them, and they stay on our books until they tell us they don’t need it.”
On her nomination, Tracey said: “To have been singled out for the work we do, it goes to show we are reaching the people we need to be in contact with. The honour is on the service we provide, that everyone has been happy and we have been able to help the community.”
“The pandemic has been so hard for many people over the last year, including in our borough, and amazing volunteers have been a real lifeline for those in need in Croydon. It is almost impossible to pick just one community hero because we are blessed with so many amazing inspirational community organisations who put others before themselves every day.
“Guiding Hands is just one great example – and represent so many others right across our borough – where volunteers have rolled up their sleeves to help anyone who needed food, friendship and wider support. Tracey’s work is truly outstanding and our borough is just so lucky to have people like her.”
Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of the council
For more information about Guiding Hands, visit their website.