This is human kind: Keeping London connected through the coronavirus pandemic

Communities have been key in keeping London going through the pandemic. That includes a community of volunteers at our resource centre in Hackney

Last updated 28 March 2023

When the first national lockdown began in March 2020, the streets of London went quiet.

But while offices and restaurants emptied, neighbours who were strangers became friends as communities worked together to reach those in need of extra support. 

At the British Red Cross, we understand the strength of a connected community.  

Whether it’s a delivery of food or helping to get someone home from hospital, throughout the pandemic our volunteers have been working across the capital to help people in crisis.  

Over the past year in London, we have… 

  • Reached over 100,000 people through our emergency response services
  • Supported nearly 50,000 people in getting their vaccinations
  • Reached more than 19,000 people with food deliveries
  • Helped over 8,000 people to get home from hospital
  • Supported almost 2,000 people through our refugee services.  


This is human kind. This is coming together and looking out for each other, so that our communities have the strength to get through anything. 

Whether it's a food delivery or a helping hand after a hospital stay, with your help, we can reach those who need it most.

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Staying open through lockdown 

While many businesses closed during the lockdowns, our resource centre in Hackney remained open. 

“With the lockdown, the volunteer work became more intense because the demand became extremely high,” says David, who has been volunteering with the British Red Cross for six years. “Maintaining social distance and following the government rules and regulations made it a very unusual work environment.” 

David knew the importance of keeping the centre open, having been supported by its services himself when he first arrived seeking asylum in the UK. At the time, he was given food parcels, toiletries, and other provisions on a weekly basis. 

Support for refugees and people seeking asylum

“I had been to a few places where I was turned down,” says David. “When I came here, I was lucky to be offered help and support. I felt I had been heard.” 

David became a volunteer at the centre after asking how he could get involved in helping other people like him. Now, David and the team make around 100 food parcels a day, twice a week. 



David, who now volunteers at the Hackney centre

The centre supports refugees and people seeking asylum who cannot work or do not have access to other financial support. There is also a day centre, where people can go and have a shower, wash their clothes, and have breakfast or a hot meal. A casework team is also on hand to help people who are seeking asylum

The British Red Cross has been a lifeline for people in crisis for over 150 years. Today, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, that lifeline means more than ever.

Thanks to our dedicated team of Red Cross Volunteers, we’re able to provide services specifically designed to help people most in need in the UK. 

Find out what help you can get from us, such as hiring a wheelchair, support in your home, emotional support, and help if you’re a refugee. 

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“Some people might have had their asylum claim refused, and there is still an interim period between getting some evidence for a fresh claim. During that time, they might not be eligible for any kind of support,” explains Gloria, the centre manager. “They rely on friends, family, and charities for support. We actually play quite a big part in people’s lives, when they are not able to access this kind of support.” 

David says he was struck by how valuable the centre’s support was to people throughout the lockdowns. 

“We have people who can come here every week to get some food parcels,” says David. “It’s nice seeing the smile on their faces, knowing that by preparing these food parcels you are saving somebody from a whole lot of stress of having to think about where they are going to get something to sustain themselves during the week.” 

Do you want to meet new people, learn new skills and help your community? There are so many opportunities to volunteer at the British Red Cross.

However much time you have and whatever your experience, you can make a big difference in your community – especially during the current coronavirus pandemic. 

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Why connected communities are so key

“We have an amazing team, the manager, the centre coordinator; everyone is supportive,” says David. “It’s a very welcoming community of diverse cultures and people.”

Fortunately, through some quick thinking and a lot of hard work, the community of staff and volunteers in the centre managed to keep most services running throughout the year.  

Now that restrictions are lifting, Gloria and the team hope that they will be able to start offering some of the things that Covid-19 forced them to temporarily suspend, like English lessons. 

This is why connected communities are so important. Whether it’s getting food to someone who would otherwise go without or being there to listen a person’s worries on our coronavirus support line, the British Red Cross brings communities together to stand strong in the toughest times.

With your help, we can continue to reach those who need it most. 

Read more

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This is human kind

This is coming together and looking out for each other, so that our communities have the strength to get through anything. Whether it's with a food delivery or a helping hand after a hospital stay, with your help, we can reach those who need it most.