Press Officer Gabriel Daudy PEPW reflects on his Community Engagement project, the W9 Crew.

During lockdown I have become involved in my local and newly-created charity: the W9 Crew. Established by Russel Kitching, it aims to help the most vulnerable in this period of lockdown. As I was watching the news in March and beginning to understand how much support would be needed in my local community, I was thrilled to learn about the work of the W9 Crew.

What services does W9 Crew provide?

There are a variety of different aspects to the W9 crew. Our regular service sees us delivering food from the local foodbank, shopping for those who cannot leave their homes, picking up prescriptions and delivering post. We started out as a crew of six, but have grown hugely as the lockdown has continued. When it became clear we would be dealing with far more challenging problems that we had initially anticipated, we became part the Paddington Emergency Response Group.

We have helped with cases of people who are often referred by neighbours or are unable to enter society due to pre-existing conditions. Some social workers in the borough of Westminster are in isolation themselves and stretched thin by exponential demand, so charities like the W9 Crew needed to step up.

What are the W9 Crew’s long-term aims?

We remain unsure of how long this lockdown will continue, but we are planning to continue supporting our local community for as needed. We are working with the local council, Paddington development trust and our MP Karen Buck to ensure that we successfully adapt to increasing demand.

The importance of working together, with organisation and clear communication, has become increasingly evident. Therefore, everyone is working together to enable access to foodbanks and community support in the local area, including postcodes next to ours.

What is my role in the W9 Crew?

I have the advantage of being familiar with technology and social media, so I used this skill to compile a database of the people in need, and those we have since helped. I also co-manage the W9 Crew’s social media.

The power of social media as a force for good has become very apparent; it is so efficient as spreading word of the W9 Crew and ensuring people know what help is available to them. Along with taking part in deliveries and shopping for those who need it, I have also been involved in some emergency response call-outs for people at immediate risk.

My experience with the W9 Crew has been incredibly powerful so far, putting my teenage concerns into perspective. I have been able to use my education and skills to serve my community, and am grateful to have had the chance to get to know my local area and neighbours better. I have been humbled by their hard work, dedication and passion at this time of crisis.

If you would like to find out more about W9 Crew, visit our Facebook page and if you live near and around W9, please come and get involved!