Flo’s, the popular community-hub based in Florence Park, is celebrating its second birthday tomorrow.

It is also marking the vital part it has played in supporting the local community during the pandemic.

Visitors will be offered a slice of celebratory cake and the chance to take a socially distanced look around Flo’s innovative Nature Nursery.

Staff and visitors will be joined by Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds.  The organisation will also publish its yearly social impact report at the online AGM later that afternoon. 

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During Covid-19, Flo’s had to rapidly respond to changing community needs, quickly becoming a beacon of hope and support in East Oxford. 

Chairman of Trustees Richard Hadfield said: “I am so proud of being part of the fantastic team at Flo’s and of what we have achieved. The feedback is fantastic and we have great plans to consolidate and move forward in the coming year. 

"We’re thankful to our partners and also for recent grant and rate relief financial support. But there are challenges ahead and for example, we are talking to Oxfordshire County Council about reviewing their policy on rent and maintenance. 

"More support, like this, would make a tremendous difference to our capacity to develop the family and community support offered by our pioneering project."

Oxford Mail:

The Nature Nursery stayed open, against the odds, to offer childcare for key workers and children at risk. The newly formed in-house cafe quickly set up the ‘OX4 Free Food’ partnership alongside ArkT, Waste2Taste and the Oxford Hub. Collectively they cooked, and delivered to the doorstep, over 4,000 fresh, homemade lunches.

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Those shielding, the elderly, single parents and the vulnerably-housed, were able to either self-refer or be referred to the service.

Oxford Mail:

Helen Mets-Tooma

Meals are made largely using ingredients that are supplied by SOFEA or the Oxford Food Bank, also helping to lessen food waste. The difference the programme made is outlined by a support worker of one of the recipients: “Fadmie has a lot of dependents; mother has dementia, son with autism, daughter and self with mental health disorders, so finds the meals a real help and respite from cooking, and describes them as 'healthy and delicious treat' which makes a real difference to her day."  

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Despite enormous challenges, and financial pressures during lockdown, Flo’s offered additional space so that the Isis Community Midwives could see more women in a safer environment.

The midwives’ work was even more vital than usual, given that GP clinics were closed and there was enormous additional pressure on the John Radcliffe Hospital. 

Between April and August 2020, the midwives had, on average, 570 appointments per month (more than double their usual appointment capacity at Flo’s)  in the expanded facilities. 

Oxford Mail:

Helen Haines, Michelle Hunter and Makena Lohr in July, 2019

Flo’s Refill Shop stocks a wide range of packaging-free products from detergents to dry foods, nuts, fruits and spices. Staffed by volunteers of all ages (14-85) they now stock 78 products and were especially busy during the lockdown period where people highly appreciated a local, safe place to shop.  

Those interested to know more, can come to Flo’s between 12-4pm.