The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed all our lives. Take something as fundamental as our experiences of space: our mobility has become severely restricted – reduced to jogs or walks a few kilometres around our homes, take our vulnerable asked to remain at home through the mental health issues caused by restrictions in social contact and uncertainty in relation to our future.
During the first wave of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Turkish Cypriot Community Association (TCCA) launched various services that support the isolated, vulnerable and those needing care, by being taking the helm and instigating the launch of the Turkish Cypriot Covid-19 Support Initiative. Since the 10th of March (before lockdown One), the Turkish Cypriot Support Initiative has been providing befriending the elderly, providing shopping runs, providing pharmacy runs, operating the emergency phone service, initiative mental health support platforms and keeping the community up to date through its support page, website and online programs.
Today the amazing work of the organisation has received much in the way of acknowledgement, from winner of the Bridge renewal award from charity of the year through to Haringey Mayoral Covid hero. It has also had many of its volunteers nominated for individual’s unsung hero awards.
Following our launch, we release a message to the community that we are in this together, this was produced jointly between TCCA and Euro Genc. To date this production has had over 21,000 views
Since the start of its initiative, the project has received the following accolades
Selection of our Videos
Here is a list of our current services:
One of our key priorities when we launched the initiative was to ensure that the vulnerable, are cared for and are not left isolated, in fear and/or alone. As part of the befriending match those who are elderly and vulnerable for a weekly chat over the phone. Our service has helped around 100 families during the difficult period. The service has helped create hundreds of new friendships, and many people tell us their calls are the highlight of their week.
Our Covid, Befriending has received a significant increase in communications via direct and organisation referrals. We recognise that isolation kills, and dramatically effects mental health and as such under the slogan “NO ONE SHALL BE LEFT ALONE”, TCCA has set up new methods of supporting those who are vulnerable. All those who volunteer are matched, are DBS clear and keep in regular contact with officers at TCCA.
“Without Akjen, I would have nothing, her weekly mean so much to me”
- Mrs M, 75 female, N18
During this worldwide crisis the TCCA have supported many elderly and vulnerable clients that are experiencing difficulty in obtaining food. This was due to a a variety of reasons, for example, they may be shielding and unable to shop, or their family members who did shop for them are they themselves are shielding or self-isolating. In addition, elderly members sometimes do not have the ability or resources to do online shopping.
TCCA has filled this gap by providing emergency food parcels. This includes essentials, as well as hot meals being provided on a weekly basis. This was particularly important as some of our members have disabilities or are unable to cook. TCCA has stepped in to provide the care needed on an individual basis. During our major big launch, our first week we reached 150 families, with 200 meals and essential items that ensured that for that week there was no need to leave the house. Due to changing circumstances, at present we are delivering to between 50-60 families per week. We have also provided meals to three care homes, three hospitals, the emergency services, and other centres. At our peak we provided over 800 meals in one week.
“Alone, and I cannot get out, so grateful that every week I received a weekly supply. Love
- Mrs H, 82 female, N18
Website, Support Page and Online programs:
In March 2020, we decided as part of the initiative that the best way to communicate with the vulnerable and elderly was via utilise visual media platforms. In early April 2020, TCCA launched an online support platform and at the same time we launched our weekly TV series, which was platformed via Eurogenc online, IPTV, and through various social media podiums. By November 2020, we had showcased a total of 28 programmes, with 51 experts in their own respective fields, these ranged from discussing Vaccines through to looking in dept at support plans in place.
Here is a selection of programs that have been aired:
We aim to launch a dedicated website for our Covid Project in late December 2020.
“So much vital information”
- Mr H, Viewer
Emergency phone service:
On the 18th of March TCCA launched our emergency phone line, from March to July 2020, the line operated a 24 hour basis with the line being operated by volunteers, our main aim to provide an emergency service for those who either lack the ability to access information, were vulnerable or could not communicate in English. In May during one-week period the emergency line was called 28 times, with calls ranging from having Covid-19 symptoms to being concerned about there own mental health.
“I needed help, and ---------- was there”
- Anonymous elderly male caller
Mental health support platforms:
Throughout the last year, there has been an astonishing rise in mental health cases. More than two-thirds of adults in the UK (69%) report feeling somewhat or very worried about the effect COVID-19 is having on their life. The most common issues affecting wellbeing are worry about the future (63%), feeling stressed or anxious (56%) and feeling bored (49%). Within the Turkish Speaking communities these are far high, as they are expatiated by language, cultural and religion.
To help we have placed many minor initiatives which help, they range from online quizzes that bring the community together through to our counselling support. As COVID-19 comes to a close, we are looking intensifying the services we provide which will aid in the support of issues that have arisen in people’s lives due to COVID-19.
With government restrictions that came into play on the 05th of November 2020, it was essential that the organisation continued its services and utilised its experience to ensure that no person in need is left alone. The initiative continued it services with the enlargement of the Befriending Initiative, Introduction of a dedicated bi-lingual Covid-19 site, borough-based food deliveries, counselling service, pharmacy collections, re-introduction of televised community based information on Euro Genc TV, regulation support to local micro businesses, what’s-app daily briefings, nutrient packs being sold as part of the initiative, and further development of partnerships. The services have been operating throughout London in particular Enfield, Haringey, Hackney, Islington, Waltham Forest and Southwark.
To this end TCCA was able to secure funds that allowed to recruit a team, that allows the organisation to effectively deliver services essential to the support of the most vulnerable.
The TCCA have been working closely with the following partners to ensure our community is supported; Edible London, CATI, Chaotic Angels, Cyprus Islamic Association, Euro Genc and Dr. Fazıl Küçük Türk Okulu / Turkish School, Shaklewell Lane Mosque and TCCUK.