After two years of working in St. James Town, CREW’s Community Animator, Lidia Ferreira, became known to The Corner. Fast forward to 2020 and COVID-19 strikes. An unprecedented emergency which has resulted in increased collaboration between agencies working to tackle the emerging issues. The Corner reached out to Lidia, asking for help to deliver donated bags of groceries to residents in need at 77 Howard. CREW’s small group of trained volunteers suddenly became hugely valuable assets. They were aware of several isolated residents who would benefit from food boxes. With advice from the volunteers, Lidia made a list of these residents and, in total, 80 boxes of food have now been delivered over three rounds of deliveries. What is clear is that this organisation, set-up primarily to deal with weather-related emergencies, has been able to adapt to the changing circumstances of COVID-19. 77 Howard’s resilience has shown that a small number of people, if organized in advance, can make a real difference in an emergency.
The CREW team are in constant communication with each other and the rest of the building through WhatsApp and posters. Through their collaboration with The Corner, CREW has met more residents, assessed additional needs, and mobilized more volunteers. New ideas are now emerging to continue our joint community efforts to create more green spaces in St. James Town, either for relaxation or for gardening. CREW plans to extend its work to other towers in the neighbourhood.
Lidia calls for the model of floor captains to be incorporated into all of the city’s high-rises, turning disconnected units into “vertical villages” to inspire greater care for humanity. COVID-19 has revealed that, now more than ever, collaboration between residents and agencies is necessary to ensure fast results for those who need support. This is what “neighbour helping neighbour” is all about.