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Palace Theatre spends centenary year supporting isolated and vulnerable Newark residents

Posted onPosted on 7th Oct

The Palace Theatre in Newark has been at the heart of the town’s community for 100 years and while many venues have had to take a step back from their roles in the past few months, the Palace has stepped into the local limelight, providing a vital service to people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in March, the theatre’s stage has been full, not of performers, but of bags of pasta, cans of soup and more.

Staff at the theatre, usually more accustomed to managing a packed auditorium, have worked alongside Newark and Sherwood’s Humanitarian Assistance Response Team (HART) to get essential food parcels to those isolating during the pandemic.

HART was set up in March 2020 as the council’s frontline response to support vulnerable and isolated residents during the pandemic.

The HART team is made up of redeployed district council officers. From 16th March to 23rd September, HART responded to 910 requests for assistance across the district, with around 20% (180) resulting in delivery of an urgent food parcel.

HART has also been supporting with requests ranging from collecting prescriptions and medication to undertaking well-being visits.

The team at the Palace Theatre, with support from HART, hosted a hub for food deliveries and packed food parcels for families and individuals who were isolated or vulnerable.

Instead of their usual work, preparing for shows and welcoming audiences, theatre staff have co-ordinated donations from local supermarkets, which HART officers then distributed in Newark and Sherwood.

A huge amount of support during lockdown was also provided by a large number of community groups, which offered a befriending, shopping or even dog walking service.

Coun David Lloyd, leader of the council, said: “Whilst it’s not the way the Palace Theatre team had planned to celebrate its Centenary year, it’s important to acknowledge that the theatre‘s journey over this year will continue to be a story told for the next 100 years.”

“The enormous effort of the HART and Palace Theatre colleagues has meant that the most vulnerable in the community have had the support they needed for the past six months. It is also important to remember that the HART support has not stopped, it is still in operation and, if anyone is self-isolating or needs help in the future, they must still call the Nottinghamshire Coronavirus Community Support Hub where enquiries will be triaged and dealt with by the best placed group, which could be our Newark and Sherwood District Council’s HART team.”

Now, after an unusual seven months, the Palace Theatre will say goodbye to the large food hub that occupied the stage. Many of the remaining supplies have now been delivered to local organisations, including Newark Women’s Aid and Newark Foodbank, whilst some remain for those that require support.

Lesley Marshall, Newark Foodbank manager, added: “The people of Newark have always been generous and we’ve been amazed at how they’ve helped. We’ve had so many great calls from people and the support from places like Newark and Sherwood District Council and the Palace Theatre has been incredible.”

If you are vulnerable and/or are struggling with accessing food, email the hub at Your enquiry will be triaged by Nottinghamshire County Council and passed to the best team to help you get the support you need. If you do not have access to the internet or to email, call 0300 500 8080.