Julian Knight's Westminster Diary, 07/05/20

Solihull Mail

Last year, I had the great pleasure of paying a visit to Newlands Bishop Farm, the Family Care Trust’s rural activity centre in Catherine-de-Barnes.

This remarkable facility offers a range of work-based and learning opportunities for young adults with learning disabilities across such fields as horticulture, woodworking, catering, and animal care.

Unfortunately, due to lockdown the Trust has had to temporarily close both the Farm and ‘The Blanning’, their community support service and a dementia day centre.

But I was delighted to learn that they haven’t allowed this to hold them back from serving their users and our community as we fight against Covid-19 – and that’s why I’m proud to name the Family Care Trust as the first of my local ‘Corona Heroes’.

For example, Berry’s Café, located on-site at Newlands Bishop Farm, has been re-purposed as a ‘hub’ providing meals not only for the service’s regular users but also for additional elderly residents who are deemed to be ‘high risk’.

It also delivers hundreds of sandwiches to NHS staff in the intensive care units at the intensive care units at both Queen Elizabeth and Heartlands hospitals – a kindness made possibly by the help of generous food donations by local supermarkets and small businesses.

Trust staff are also helping their users self-isolate by performing shopping runs, collecting prescriptions, and delivering food parcels, helping to ensure that people who may not have friends or relatives to help are still getting the support they need.

This story exhibits so much of what is best about Solihull’s charitable spirit. Not only have the team at the Family Care Trust successfully and creatively adapted their services to these extraordinary times, but local businesses have stepped up and helped them to reach even more people, including Health Service staff.

I’m glad to shine a light on this remarkable work. But I know that this is just one example of how individuals, groups, and businesses across our town are rising to the coronavirus challenge. That’s why I will be regularly drawing attention to other ‘Corona Heroes’ both in this column and on my social media channels.

And if you know of any person, team, or project which fits the bill, please visit my website and nominate them!