WIN Members Rising to the Challenge of the Pandemic

Since 2020, the world has been grappling with a global pandemic that brought our lives to a standstill. Although we’ve all been touched by restrictions and lockdowns, COVID-19 has undeniably deepened divisions in society, with disproportionate impacts on minoritised and disabled communities and with those already struggling to make ends meet pushed further into poverty. With so many communities in need of support, organisations and individuals have had to find creative ways to rise to the challenge. These stories of hope, resilience and incredible kindness have cut through the grief and showed people at their best.

Here at WIN, we have been inspired and moved by how our membership have mobilised to serve their communities, whether shielding at home or working on the frontlines.

For example, Co-Chair of Waltham Forest WIN Averil Pooten, alongside her essential work running a residential care home for residents with mental health issues and dementia, has co-ordinated with local NHS partners through her role as a church-warden at St. Barnabas Church to offer vaccinations to undocumented migrants unable to access healthcare through traditional routes.  Under this scheme, they were able to deliver over 400 vaccines to 200 undocumented migrants. Other members were closely involved with their local mutual aid groups, distributing food, medicines and other essentials to those who needed them. Another Waltham Forest WIN member, Saira Mir, continued her crucial work keeping the award-winning Pl84U-Al Suffa Foodbank open in the face of unprecedented need, providing vulnerable families with food and education packs.

While shielding at home, our other Waltham Forest Co-Chair Tara Khare still worked alongside her local mutual aid group to sew face masks for NHS workers in response to shortages of critical personal protective equipment. Dr. Sudarshan Kapur MBE, head of our Gants Hill group, continued to work for the wellbeing of her community from home by offering regular laughter yoga sessions online through Facebook and Zoom. Other members adapted quickly by moving their ministries and devotional activities online to provide spiritual support, or just a listening ear to those struggling with isolation.

These stories highlight the power of grassroots movements like ours, bringing together women from different backgrounds with a shared commitment to change their communities for the better. We are grateful to all our voluntary sector colleagues and essential workers across the country who have worked tirelessly over the last two years tackling the fall out from the pandemic.