Hilton Family Project update: Simeon talks to John
I had a chat with Simeon Ewing about how Hilton Family Support’s work is progressing. He outlined his activities, and told me he is regularly in contact with around 25 families. He had been hoping as the lockdown eased over the summer to be able to arrange some physical group meetings. He managed two, held in back gardens, with limited numbers attending and social distancing to keep within the guidelines. But then the regulations tightened once more and such meetings were no longer possible. Simeon’s current aim, therefore is to maintain maximum human contact with these families at a time when it is not possible to gather together. He arranges weekly chats on Zoom or Messenger, and delivers fruit personally to each family most weeks. The personal touch is important: the fruit is popular, but what’s especially significant is the face-to-face contact he has with people on their doorsteps while making the deliveries.
One of the plans for 2020 which Simeon hasn’t been able to fully implement because of COVID-19 was to help clients of Hilton Family Project to access courses and learning opportunities. He has, however, been able to help a couple of people to sign up for a digital skills course and learn some basic infant first aid through online guides.
Simeon says that as the weather gets colder, and darkness falls earlier, Hilton Family Support in partnership with Joe and Hannah at the Anchor Café in the Light House are exploring the possibilities of offering a weekly meal service once more.
As well as all this activity ‘on the ground’, Simeon has been busy in the office: writing reports, policies, and funding applications with the help of Jonathan Fraser, Barry Dennis and Allan Sillars (all Trustees), and organising a survey to explore how the folk he works with coped with lockdown. He also asked them what they felt was the best support they’d received from any source during those months, and how they thought Hilton Family Support could help them over the winter.
People reported being very grateful for the food deliveries, and for the opportunities to talk to Simeon and the volunteers by phone, on the doorstep, and on video meetings. At the height of the lockdown, Simeon led a team of dedicated volunteers who delivered food, went to the pharmacy on behalf of people who were shielding, collected newspapers for people and much else in support of those in the community. Currently these volunteers are not required, but if activities increase over the winter, their help may be sought once again.
The Trustees of the Hilton Family Project met recently, and discussed the Project’s plans for Christmas. It’s a time of year when there are normally lots of activities which are unlikely be possible this December because of COVID-related restrictions. Simeon and the Trustees were thinking creatively – how to do Christmas from a distance. The Church is able to help with the provision of food hampers and Christmas gifts for the families involved to ensure that, despite COVID, they have as happy and joyful Christmas as possible. Because of COVID we are unable to accept donations of food or gift items this year, but financial contributions towards the cost of the hampers and gifts can be made here.
We are so grateful to the Trustees of Hilton Family Support and to Simeon for making possible all this vital, life-enhancing work in the community. Thank you, Simeon, for your dedication at a time when you’ve been facing various domestic challenges, including hassles with a broken boiler and with a kitchen floor replacement project, to say nothing of a new pup who needs let out to pee at 3am each morning! We really appreciate you and all you do, Simeon.