For some, the COVID-19 pandemic was a life changing experience. When businesses had to cease trading and schools shut their doors, the world hadn’t seen interruption of this scale since World War 2. In this blog series, we’re sitting down with some of those people to discuss their Pandemic Stories. For the third entry in the series we caught up with Yvonne Allman. Many people in our community know Yvonne for her tireless dedication to the amazing community resource that is Swinnow Community Centre. Read on to hear more about how the pandemic affected her.
Hi, I’m Yvonne. I’m the volunteer manager of Swinnow Community Centre. Swinnow Community Centre is a completely volunteer run community centre, which is for any member of our local community and the areas surrounding it. We pride ourselves on our warm, welcoming and friendly service to all.
Although I don’t often find myself with much spare time, when I do I love to garden. However, my love for the community and the centre always comes first so you will often find me there at many times of the day working hard to keep it going.
I first became aware of it when it was starting to get picked up by the news channels, although at the time I was hopeful it would be something that the world would get on top of and that it wouldn’t go on to become the big problem it has become.
I quickly realised, however that it would eventually come to impact us and our local communities and realised we had to do something to help.
I didn’t really have time to think about how I felt. I simply realised that there were going to be many families out there that would soon need our help so we got straight to it with planning and action on how we as a centre could help the local community.
The changes to the centre were enormous, first of all our group sessions basically ended over night. We went from having 22 group sessions a week, to becoming a food and welfare package distributor. Our volunteers sprang in to action making hundreds of sandwiches, and large quantities of hot food each day and delivering it.
As more and more people came to us for help, we began to create and distribute hundreds of food parcels and much more besides to ensure those that needed it most, got it.
Although it was such a scary time for many, it was quite amazing to watch our entire community come together to help each other.
We essentially switched from being a community centre to a food bank, over night.
I’d be lying if I told you the work wasn’t hard, it was… Very very hard. However we got a great amount of joy out of helping people. It felt extremely rewarding knowing we were out there helping and connecting with the most vulnerable in our society.
As the pandemic raged on, more people came to us for help, not only needing food but we were also distributing clothing, furniture and even Christmas hampers / toys.
Of course! I’m tremendously proud of every single volunteer who helped us. These people gave up their personal time to help us in any way they could. It was amazing to see everyone pull together as one unit.
I’m feeling rather relieved that we have some normality back now with the success of the vaccination programme, however I also realise that this pandemic isn’t yet over and for many it will take a long time to get back to full normality. COVID-19 will continue to affect us for a long time, but the human race have overcome adversity before and will do so again.
From all of us at MyPudsey, a massive thank you to Yvonne for telling us her story about life during the pandemic. We’re tremendous supporters of Swinnow Community Centre and believe it’s one of the greatest community assets we have. If you haven’t already paid a visit, then please do.
Swinnow Community Centre are always on the hunt for volunteers too, so if you’re looking for something to give your time to then please do use their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SwinnowCC to get in touch with Yvonne and the team.