Community Links builds community resilience ahead of 'tough winter'

Community Links HQ in Barking Road, Canning Town

Community Links HQ in Barking Road, Canning Town - Credit: Archant

With cold nights drawing in, fuel prices soaring, and thousands suffering from the personal and economic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, this winter will be a challenging one for vulnerable people.  

Among the most recognised charities helping individuals and families in hardship across east London is Community Links. 

Formally established in 1977, and initially operating out of a decommissioned Routemaster bus, the Canning Town-based charity has offered advice and support to those suffering from deprivation in the area for decades. 

However, 2021 has already been a notable year for the charity. 

In February, it merged with Catch 22, another charity which designs and delivers community services across the UK, and in April, co-founder Kevin Jenkins died aged 62

Community Links life president Kevin Jenkins. Picture: Kevin Jenkins

Co-founder of Community Links, Kevin Jenkins passed away this year - Credit: Kevin Jenkins

People lining Bethell Avenue to applaud the funeral cortege of Kevin Jenkins OBE and founder of Ambi

People lining Bethell Avenue applaud the funeral cortege of Kevin Jenkins who co-founded Community Links - Credit: Ken Mears

Now it faces one of the most challenging winters in recent memory. 

The communities in which the charity works were already faced with a lot of challenges prior to Covid-19 – Newham, for instance, had 14 per cent unemployment and child poverty as high as 50pc.

During the pandemic, east London boroughs recorded some of the highest death rates in the UK.

Chi Kavindele, director of the charity, said it is “bracing for a tough winter”, especially regarding short-term emergency support such as foodbanks. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: Ronnie Wood opens the music studios at Community Links in Canning Town

Community Links director, Chi Kavindele - Credit: Dave J Hogan

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He said: “However, we want to ultimately help build communities which are thriving and resilient in the long term – beyond just surviving one winter at a time. 

“This means helping people to access support to get into meaningful employment, digital skills training and other opportunities to help themselves in the longer term. We call this our early action approach, and it underlines much of what we do as a community hub.” 

The charity offers a number of services to people in hardship in the area, including legal advice relating to housing, debt, employment and consumer issues supported by lawyers from magic circle firms. 

It also delivers a range of services which include helping young people into employment, emergency food support and a health service designed to increase screening participation among low-uptake populations. 

Members of the public can email or call 02074739681 to find out more.

The charity’s foodbank is available 4pm to 5pm on Wednesdays at 105 Barking Road, Canning Town.