West Norwich Helping Hands was co-founded in March 2020 by Eddi Gell, a now Masters Student at UEA. The group worked hard to deliver food parcels throughout the lockdown period, helping over 200 families weekly as well as dropping off prescriptions, walking dogs and helping with other essential services within NR4, NR5 and NR6. Thanks to the No Longer Strangers project, which WNHH is working on in hopes of building bridges between communities in Norwich, the services provided have been personalised for the comfort and ease of those from BAME and immigrant backgrounds; individuals can fill out forms in their native language and parcels are delivered by volunteers who speak the language where possible.
The group has a strong student presence amongst its volunteers; two out of three Directors are current UEA students and at least 60% of the volunteer base are students or graduates. In addition, the UEA Polish Society are official partners of the No Longer Strangers project, and several cultural societies have helped the NLS team: HinduSoc have helped with providing information and photos about Navratri for an upcoming short video, while Taiwanese Society and Malaysian Society did the same for the Mid Autumn Festival.
Patrick Mouncer is currently a second year Law student and has volunteered for the organisation since June as a driver, after ‘friends from the UEA brought [to his] attention that people needed help’. He says about the experience:
‘It was a few hours a week of my time, but when I saw the smiling faces of families receiving much-needed prescriptions or food, I knew it was more than worthwhile. Their gratitude was heart-warming. What impressed me most were the tireless efforts of the WNHH team who worked very long hours and whose only concern was those they wished to help. A truly wonderful and rewarding experience.’
If you would like to join the WNHH team and would like more information with regards to the issues discussed in this article www.wnhh.org.uk