Touchstone is a mental health and wellbeing charity that specialises in eliminating health inequalities in underserved and marginalised communities, including Black African, Caribbean and South East Asian communities, refugees and asylum seekers, and LGBTQI+ groups across West and South Yorkshire.
The Leeds-based charity not only delivers vital services to meet these groups’ mental health and wellbeing needs but uses its expertise to amplify the voices of vulnerable groups with service commissioners and other stakeholders.
“Within a few hours of the start of the first lockdown, Darren and his team were delivering food to some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Leeds.“
Touchstone was recognised at this year’s Charity Awards for its incredible work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The charity received the COVID-19 Response Award, sponsored by Rathbones, for its ‘Touchstone Loves Food’ initiative.
Community Development Manager Darren De Souza explains: “Touchstone Loves Food (TLF) came about through really listening to our service users. When COVID first hit, we already knew that some of our communities would be less worried about the virus and more concerned with how they were going to feed their families if their usual services weren’t operating, or if they couldn’t go out because they were shielding.”
Within a few hours of the start of the first lockdown, Darren and his team were delivering food to some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in Leeds.
The team quickly realised they would need a more sustainable solution, so they set up a referral process and food delivery system. Within six weeks, TFL was supporting over 400 people and within 12 weeks the team was providing five hours’ of much needed one-to-one phone support a day.
Darren explains: “People were scared and incredibly anxious. But because everyone helped out, TLF allowed us to meet our service users’ basic food requirements while also providing much needed mental health and wellbeing support.”
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