A Dundee community group has been recognised nationally for its efforts to help support thousands of people during lockdown.
Dundee Thegither has won an Openreach Community Connectors Award for working to tackle isolation, raise spirits and hand out food parcels to the most vulnerable in society during the pandemic.
As well as handing out much-needed food parcels, the community group also ran a ‘blether line’, making phone calls to those who were shielding or self-isolating to help support their mental health.
“This award is putting Dundee on the map”
Lee Mills from Dundee Thegither said: “Right from the beginning of the pandemic we were making phone calls and handing out food parcels.
“When we were nominated we had handed out over 1,500 food parcels but by now it must be over 2,000, maybe even 2,500.
“There are too many to count.
“Dundee has always been a victim of poverty but things have calmed down since the height of the pandemic.
“But that is the joy of Dundee Thegither – we can pop up wherever we are needed.
“There were 130 nominations for this award so it is putting Dundee on the map as well.
“It is not until someone praises you for what you are doing that you realise just what good you have done.
“Openreach said they had never seen a community come together like this before, they said they could actually see everyone was mucking in to help, which is great.”
Siobhan Tolland from Dundee Thegither added: “We set up Dundee Thegither because we knew immediately the impact that lockdown would have on our most vulnerable in Dundee.
“Dundee is a strong city with great resilience but, for all of us who started this, our preoccupation was to help and support our community and ensure that no one was left behind in this pandemic.
“We have tried to bring a safety net to those struggling in these times, as well as trying to reduce isolation.
“We also just wanted to bring some fun into people’s lives.
“And what we found is that so many people approached us wanting to do something similar, and that just made our city all the stronger.”
“No one more worthy”, says Dundee MP Chris Law
Dundee Thegither was nominated for the award by Chris Law, MP for Dundee West.
He said: “A huge congratulations to Dundee Thegither for winning an Openreach Community Connectors Award for their fantastic working during this really dreadful Covid-19 pandemic.
“There have been many great examples of people going to great lengths to help our communities through the pandemic.
“But personally, I can think of no one more worthy of the Openreach award than Dundee Thegither, who’ve kept the city’s spirit alive through the pandemic and who’ve given out thousands of food packages to those most in need.”
Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, added: “We were inspired to launch the community connectors awards by the efforts of our engineering team.
“The stories received from across the UK have been inspiring and show how many people are working to make a difference and support their neighbours during lockdown.
“The volunteers at Dundee Thegither haven’t sought recognition but they’re a wonderful example to their community.
“I’m delighted and very grateful to be able to thank them for everything they have done to support vulnerable people in Dundee.”