Supporting the Forest

Hi, I’m Toby and I normally work within Waltham Forest Council’s Enjoy team, working specifically on their behaviour change programme. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was redeployed to at ZED Waltham Forest, our sustainable delivery service.

In the first few weeks, our main priority was supporting Waltham Forest Council’s Community Help Network, facilitating the delivery of 765 food parcels during the first few weeks of lockdown. During that first week, the amazing ZED delivery drivers completed 448 deliveries of prescriptions to vulnerable residents, which were all completed by cycle. During this time ZED continued delivering regular clients such as Organiclea veg boxes, Freddie’s Flowers flower bunches, documents and letters for the Council, Perky Blender’s Coffee subscriptions, Hot DabbaDrop Indian takeaway on Friday evenings. Being able to support the Help Network made us feel like we were helping to make a difference and were encouraged by the amount of thanks we received from these residents who were so grateful to receive their essential items.

A typical ZED day for me has looked like this:

9am: Cruising in at 9am, I find Michal the ZED Duty Manager, already desperate for a tasty coffee to keep his fingers tapping while uploading the daily deliveries onto ZED’s delivery software.
9.30am: Karin arrives from the pharmacy and starts sorting out the prescriptions into postcodes. One by one the ZED riders will arrive at staggered times, ensuring social distancing can occur properly. Each delivery rider has a different cycle dependent on what type of deliveries they’re making. For example, Marcella might have a Trike full of prescriptions in the lockable trailer, whereas Mo has the speedy Bullit bike, a cargo bike more suitable for a batch of letters.
This start of the day is busy and quick because everyone wants to get going and start delivering.
10.30am: Once all of the riders have set off to start deliveries a calmness sets down in the base. Michal tinkers about giving maintenance to the bikes while I due tasks from my usual Council role.
12pm: Just before lunch the redeployed Civil Enforcement Officers arrive to collect their delivery lists that we’ve prepared, and then off they head to the Food Bank distribution centre.
3pm: Howard returns as he has finished his drops for the day. Just as he sits down for a nice tea and biscuit Michal’s phone rings, it’s Mo with a flat tyre. Luckily Howard hasn’t left yet, so is free to take some tools and a pump, speeding off to give Mo a hand to repair the tyre. This teamwork ensures our essential deliveries can be made on the right day.
5pm: The end of the day brings the classic game of Bike Tetris, trying to squeeze in the fleet of bikes ZED have to a rather small space.

I feel really lucky to have been redeployed during the Covid-19 pandemic with such a great team who are making a real difference. To work with a great team, be able to still have a laugh, whilst also supporting our most vulnerable residents has been an experience I won’t forget.

For more information on ZED and how they can support you, head over to their website: https://zedwalthamforest.co.uk/

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