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Resident-led community panel donates £55,000 to support local charities responding to the pandemic

As the impact of the coronavirus outbreak continues to be felt in communities nationwide, the Old Ford Community Panel has pledged £55,000 in emergency funding to local organisations that are responding to the pandemic.

Established in 2018 as a result of the merger between Clarion Housing Group and Old Ford Housing Association, the resident-led panel works with Clarion to inform and support the delivery of housing services and community investment in Tower Hamlets and Havering.

Funded and supported by Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group, the Old Ford Community Panel has continually sought ideas to improve local spaces, invest in community projects and enhance the lives of residents.

Whilst the pandemic put most of the Panel’s current projects on hold, its members were keen to continue making a difference. A total of £55,000 has been allocated to support 11 organisations that are working to tackle the issues facing the local community, including food poverty, mental health issues, isolation and loneliness.

The organisations that have received funding are Age UK East London, who will use the grant to provide telephone support to elderly clients, Bethnal Green Foodbank and Bow Foodbank who will use the funding to provide food and essential items to those in need, MIND in Tower Hamlets and Newham, who will be focusing on projects reducing loneliness and isolation, Rainham Foodbank, who will be setting up a virtual befriending service alongside the provision of food parcels, and the First Love Foundation which provides crisis intervention through project workers.

In addition, funding has been awarded to Bookmark Reading, a volunteer-led literacy programme for local children, Bow Haven and Place2Be which support people with mental health problems, Beyond the Streets, which provides support for vulnerable women in the borough and Tower Hamlets Friends and Neighbours which runs a telephone befriending service to reduce isolation and improve mental and physical health.

Helen Stack, Head of Fundraising for Age UK East London, said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the Old Ford Community Panel and Clarion Futures. For them to have reallocated their annual budget to support local groups like us is very kind and thoughtful and it will have a huge impact, enabling us to reach more older people in need of a hand as the pandemic continues.”

Jackie Harris MBE, Chair of the Old Ford Community Panel, said: “The pandemic has caused all sorts of problems within our communities and affected a great many of us in different ways. It was this realisation that led us to explore ways to support those groups who may have otherwise ‘slipped through the net’. It is my hope, and that of my colleagues on the Panel, that these grants will enable the recipients to strengthen what they do, both now and in the future, and continue making a difference.”

To find out more about the Old Ford Community Panel or to suggest a project to support, email