How the Comet showed Stevenage, Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock coming together during the coronavirus crisis

PUBLISHED: 10:59 11 October 2020

The Comet's final litter pick for September, as part of Hitchin Hates Litter. Picture: Supplied

The Comet's final litter pick for September, as part of Hitchin Hates Litter. Picture: Supplied

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Throughout lockdown, the Comet has highlighted ways in which the Stevenage, Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock communities have helped others during the pandemic.

The grant programme is the latest relief package announced by the Heritage Foundation. Picture: LGCHFThe grant programme is the latest relief package announced by the Heritage Foundation. Picture: LGCHF

Our Hitchin Hates Litter campaign saw reporter Jacob Thorburn rallying the community with a series of litter picks to tackle the increase of littering during lockdown.

The campaign, which you can read more about here, gained support from North Herts District Council, and councillors took part in the Comet’s litter picks along with Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami, local business owners and the founders of Earth Guardians UK Stevenage.

We also covered the Letchworth Heritage Foundation’s community response team, which was set up to help people experiencing food poverty and isolation over the months of lockdown.

The Comet ran regular columns showcasing the Heritage Foundation’s efforts, which included arranging more than 600 food shopping deliveries to vulnerable residents or those in self-isolation.

Nurses wearing scrubs made by Hertfordshire Scrub Hub. Picture: Herts Scrub HubNurses wearing scrubs made by Hertfordshire Scrub Hub. Picture: Herts Scrub Hub

We covered Stevenage Leisure Centre emptying its vending machines and theatre bars to donate over 1,000 bottles of drink and other supplies to NHS staff at Lister Hospital, as well as becoming a community distribution hub to help people during the crisis.

The team at the leisure centre assisted Stevenage Borough Council to provide vital packages to vulnerable people in need.

Lister Hospital also benefited from the work of Herts Scrub Hub, which we ran a story on in April.

The group was set up by Sarah Russell, with 50 volunteers taking part across Herts to sew hundreds of pairs of scrubs for NHS staff at Lister Hospital, Watford General, Luton & Dunstable and Barnet Hospital, as well as local GP surgeries.

Staff at Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre collected all of their stock to donate to staff at Lister Hospital. Picture: SLLStaff at Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre collected all of their stock to donate to staff at Lister Hospital. Picture: SLL

The Comet also helped publicise an unusual community project, where families created ‘Covid the Cobra’ – a snake made of more than 3,500 painted stones – on Stevenage’s Grace Way cycle path.

The snake was started by Dawn Parnell and her children Eddie, 10, and Owen, five, with people of all ages joining in to add their own decorated stones. Covid the Cobra is now being preserved by Stevenage Borough Council to “tell the tale of the great way we kept spirits high during the coronavirus lockdown’.

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