The incredible response from the community of Dunbar and East Linton to the crisis caused by the global pandemic should be held up as a gold standard.
Dunbar and East Linton is and has always been a community-minded place with a fiercely responsible get-it-done attitude to solving problems for local folk, by local folk. This resilience has been put to the test in this pandemic, and multiple community-led initiatives have risen to this huge challenge proactively and with agility.
Within days of the lockdown being announced, community councils across the area had formed community response teams, zoned the towns and villages into clusters and delivered leaflets to every home, making everyone aware of what help was available in this time of needs.
Hundreds of volunteers have stepped up, and thousands of pounds have been donated.
The Ridge, well known in the community for the Backlands community garden just off Dunbar High St, has become a linchpin of the town. Alongside regularly supporting around 250 people to get back on their feet with sympathetic, non-judgemental and very effective support, plus supplying the Community Carrot with veg for the shop, The Ridge has been responding to immediate needs of people in Dunbar in crisis, some weeks they’ve had 30 people coming to them, all for different reasons. The Ridge is also accepting monetary donations to the community COVID-19 response.
The Dunbar Basics Foodbank, operating out of the Parish Church Hall, is now feeding twenty households most weeks. The team are certainly missing seeing everyone for their usual catch up when they come to pick up their weekly supplies, but are keeping in touch as much as they can. The food bank is always in need of more donations, which can be dropped off at the bins at Asda, the big Co-op and McColls on the High St. At the moment they need (as of June 4 2020): Fray Bentos pies, tinned mince, tinned haggis, jars of curry sauce, tinned ham and shower gel.
The Community Carrot has adapted from making up 60 boxes of produce a week to 350 (!), with free delivery to folk who are isolating. They’ve also developed a system for pick ups at the Bleachingfield Centre – and are still donating the squashy veg to Sunny Soups. Adapting to the lockdown at the beginning in the tiny shop happened quickly and they are always well stocked with flour, pasta and tinned tomatoes.
Hannah and Chris from Sunny Soups are still making around 50 portions of soup and baked goods every week, despite them missing spending days with the volunteers making soup and setting the world to rights.
The Hot Meals Service, a project kicked off by the Dunbar Community Council and Home Start, has been delivering dozens of meals every day, sometimes up to 80 two course meals.
After the Cockburnspath village shop closed back in March, the Cockburnspath and Cove Community Council with the Parish of Dunglass stepped in and offered to buy up all the stock – as well as the ice cream freezer – and set up a foodbank-cum-grocery store for the community. Operating out of the church hall, they have made sure everyone is fed, watered and kept in school exercise books during the lockdown.
In East Linton, volunteers from the Lynton Day Centre is keeping in touch with their members – who would normally come along to the centre each day for company and a hot dinner – by ringing them up every night. Loneliness can be a problem at the best of times for older folk, and during this pandemic it has got much worse.
Looking ahead, the long term impacts of lockdown are not yet known.
As the furlough scheme is rolled back and redundancies increase; as folks continue shielding and self-isolating even when lockdown lifts; as community centres remain closed; local community-lead grassroots services are there to support you.
A crisis can take many forms. Please don’t hold back in asking for help when you need it – there is plenty of support out there.
You could be waiting the six weeks for your universal credit payment to come in, with bills coming in that you’re struggling to pay. A hardship fund is available. Contact the single point of contact for your area, detailed in the links below.
You could be scraping the bottom of the barrel of your savings and be in need of a few weeks respite on buying the shopping. The Basics Food Bank and the Cockburnspath Food Bank are there to support.
You could be facing mounting debts as the months of lowered income roll on; The St Annes Debt Advisory Service can help – call 01368 238028 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You could be suddenly self isolating and need your prescription picked up. Did you know your postie can do this for you? Let your single point of contact know.
You could be feeling incredibly lonely after spending weeks in isolation at home.
Community COVID Response teams and single points of contact by area are the go-to places for all support:
Dunbar and West Barns: https://dunbarcommunitycouncil.org.uk/dunbar-community-resilience/
Dunpender (East Linton, Tyninghame, Whittinghame and areas) : www.eastlintonuk.com People can also contact 07514 136334 or 07933 709745.
East Lammermuir (Innerwick, Oldhamstocks, Spott and Stenton villages and areas): https://eastlammermuircommunitycouncil.org.uk/villages-covid-19-response/