Why is this initiative needed?
As an organisation that promotes African and Caribbean Arts & Culture, we have offered for the past 3 years a place for young people from low socio-economic backgrounds in London and many parts of Africa to come and express themselves through music workshops, reading poetry and stories for children and dancing. Due to COVID- 19 we had to make the necessary adjustments to continue providing our services from digital platforms, but throughout the pandemic we’ve received many calls from our users who are struggling to cope with what is happening. COVID-19 has affected the BAME community in a very deep and disproportionate way resulting in many people going through emotional and psychological trauma as well as financial difficulties as a result of isolation, lack of work and the high risk of illness in the community.
What are we hoping to achieve?
We are hoping to receive funding to set up a phone line available every weekday to give community members someone to talk to who can sympathise with what they are going through, actually dedicate time to listening to their worries, and who could refer them to the public services most suited to catering to their specific needs if necessary.
Many public services are currently overburdened due to the rush for services caused by corona, and with furlough ending at the end of October, we worry that unemployment will rise, adding to the burden. These services have to prioritise efficiency and so cannot spend time listening to everyone’s stories. We believe that empathy is the first step to relieving the pain caused by COVID-19. Our goal is to help members of the community feel heard, and less alone when dealing with their problems. We feel that this could go a long way to helping with the anxiety that many feel towards Coronavirus.
However, our aim is also to reach concrete solutions which will reduce the long-term effects of COVID 19 on these individuals, and improve their current situations. We would have many well trained volunteers available to make recommendations to the relevant public services for those struggling to find help and also to make people aware of help that some in society are unaware that they are eligible for. We believe that this would be beneficial to both the overburdened services and the callers. We would also have financial specialists available to aid those with serious financial difficulties.
The money that we raise would go towards the preparation of the correct infrastructure for the initiative, such as the phone line software and internet services as well as the phone costs for volunteers and a small fee to encourage people to volunteer. We would also hire financial specialists as well as foreign language speakers to help those who feel more comfortable communicating in a different language when trying to express very sensitive topics.
There is a lot of grief, anxiety, and disbelief at what is happening amongst many people in this country. So many lives have been lost and people are grieving; People want to understand, people want to speak to someone about their worries.
We would love to be there for them. To be able to help members deal with the impact of Coronavirus on their lives, finances and family relationships.
We are counting on your generosity to be able to put smiles back on many people's faces!