Two years ago, St George’s Parish Centre in Wembdon, received a grant of £35,000 from the HPC Community Fund, to fund a new centre development worker for three years.

The project’s aim was to reduce isolation and provide emotional and practical support through various activities to bring the community closer.

Liz Birch, who took on the role of centre development worker, is one of many who has been forced to adapt her work after the country went into lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mrs Birch said: “Prior to lockdown, one of the many things I was able to do is create social cookery classes within the Parish Centre kitchen, which became very popular in the short space of time we were able to run them.

"We had small groups of five people in any one class, and I created various recipes to suit different levels of knowledge.

"Once the meal was prepared, we all sat down together to eat and chat. Some of the people coming along had never cooked, however they soon learnt the basics which gave them the confidence to learn a little more."

But towards the end of March, the centre was forced to close due to the lockdown.

Liz continued: “All our buildings closed – there was no coffee shop, and no cooking classes or community events.”

Liz then took the opportunity to creatively adapt her work in new ways to keep the community connected and support vulnerable neighbours through the coronavirus crisis.

“I joined the local Covid-19 volunteer group and have set up a Digital Café via Zoom for an hour every day, Monday to Friday," Mrs Birch said.

"Anyone can come and say hello and have a chat, and it’s a great way of connecting the community and allowing anyone to take a space.

"We have around 10 to 12 people a day, and I’m hoping to open a takeaway café soon on a couple of days a week, using our outdoor tables.

"For those who aren’t online, we also have a regular conference call set up on the phone, which is a great way for older people to chat to others regularly and for us to check they are doing OK."

If you run a local community project in Somerset and would like to find out more about grant funding from the HPC Community Fund, call Somerset Community Foundation on 01749 344949 or visit