Thursday, 29 October 2020

Henley Rotary Club

FOLLOWING the launch of their JustGiving appeal, which has so far raised almost £4,000, members of Henley Rotary Club invited Tim Prior to explain where the money will be going.

Tim is the youth and families team manager for Nomad, the charity that will be using the funds to support people in the Henley area.

The talk on Tuesday last week was delivered online and attended by 20 members of the public as well as the Rotarians.

Club president Barry Prior introduced the session by explaining how Rotary helps local charities including Nomad.

In introducing Tim Prior, he reassured the audience that they were not related.

Tim explained how the challenges being faced by families have increased during the current crisis.

Nomad works collaboratively with other organisations supporting young people and families and, he said, it was incredibly rewarding seeing young people turn their situations around.

It is mentoring 30 young people in local schools, being a role model, listening and giving advice.

The organisation runs holiday activities and after-school clubs, such as football, which is enjoyed by 20 young people once a week.

Its community work includes helping the 16-plus age group to make the transition from school to college, assistance in finding jobs and housing and weekly mentoring in conjunction with the YMCA.

Since the lockdown began Nomad workers have been unable to meet parents and young people and the activity programmes have come to halt.

Turning to the subject of the Henley food bank, Tim explained that this service has been in existence for almost five years, usually providing 20 to 30 food parcels a month.

Until recently it was a relatively small part of Nomad’s services but incredibly helpful. It has remained open during the lockdown.

In the last week of March, Nomad received a big increase in demand for food with referrals from South Oxfordshire District Council, schools, housing associations, health visitors, Citizens Advice, the YMCA, police and the Job Centre.

From March 23 to May 13, Nomad delivered 340 food parcels, consisting of 840 bags of food. In the same period of 2019 it provided just 36 food parcels.

It is now supporting 469 adults and 274 children in 100 households on a weekly basis.

There have been very generous donations of food and money from individuals, streets, local organisations and societies.

The money has also been used to provide supermarket vouchers to enable families to buy fresh food not available from the food bank.

Tim thanked the Henley Mutual Aid Support Group for its excellent work.

He then answered questions from the audience and was able to explain some of the reasons for the increase in demand. These included families on low income with children at home all day, elderly people struggling to get out and the homeless.

The vote of thanks was given by Rotarian Mark Harling, who pointed out that despite Henley being a prosperous area, the work of Nomad was vital to families in real need.

He said the charity’s support was needed now more than ever as public sector organisations struggle to meet the needs.

Mark concluded by asking Tim to imagine a rousing round of applause from the audience as he wasn’t able to hear everyone clapping him from their homes.

Peter Thomson

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