Mindful Gifts, a Community Interest Company (CIC) specialising in gifts for dementia sufferers, turned their shop into a ‘Community Food Outlet’ for two weeks in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Darlaston based shop sourced food, medicine, hygiene and cleaning products that were proving hard to obtain due to panic buying. They also arranged food parcels for those in isolation.
After government guidance on closing all non-essential retail outlets, they took the decision to transfer the items to the nearby Community Hubs, including Willenhall CHART, Darlaston All Active and Old Hall People’s Partnership and they continue to work in partnership with these groups, Walsall Council and many others across the West locality.
The service has been of enormous benefit to the community, two individuals in particular stood out for founder Vicki Phipps who explained: “One gentleman, aged over 70, was in an oxygen mask isolated in his living room unable leave his home to get shopping. He is reliant on cup-a-soups, instant noodles and other items that can be made with hot water. We were able to source these - It was a life-saver for him.
“A lady who had recently lost her husband also stood out for me, she’d had a stroke and was isolating so had been unable to shop for three months. We were able to source a wide range of items for her and provided at least two months’ worth of essentials. She was also able to see a friendly smile when the items were delivered – the first she’d seen in a long time.”
The Walsall for All Innovation Fund was allocated to support this work, which will help many residents across Walsall access vital items, with the support of the wider community.
Although the shop has temporarily closed, the work of Mindful Gifts continues. Recently, they distributed sweets to households and delivered over £1000 worth of free activities to local care homes within the Darlaston area.
Despite the challenges emerging from the COVID-19 outbreak, it has given local organisations and communities the opportunity to break down barriers and consider the needs of those who are vulnerable or self-isolating while following government advice.