FIRSTSITE has been repurposed into an operations base for an initiative delivering food to the vulnerable across Colchester.

Charity Community360 is using the the Lewis Gardens cultural facility to collate and pack essentials before sending them off for delivery.

The gallery is closed due to lockdown restrictions but has offered its facilities to community groups such as the charity.

Director Sally Shaw said: "We are proud to work with a wide range of community partners to help shape all we do at Firstsite, from our artistic programme to our ways of working - so as soon as Community360 asked us to get involved in this project we were more than happy to do all we could to support them.

"Thanks to funding received from the Essex Coronavirus Response and Recovery Programme we have been able to sustain this support and continue to provide our facilities throughout the lockdown.”

Copies of the Firstsite's Art is where the home is activity packs are being distributed with the deliveries with the packs featuring ideas from artists including Antony Gormley, Gillian Wearing and Vanley Burke.

Kent Blaxill has donated faced masks, Metro Bank has donated bags and Waitrose has been providing food and other essentials.

These items are being packaged up by a band of volunteers recruited by Community360 as part of the One Colchester partnership's Operation Shield initiative.

Community360's chief executive officer Tracy Rudling said: “The coronavirus crisis, and its’ devastating consequences, has touched and affected every one of us. The pandemic has already changed millions of lives, and its impacts are placing increased pressure on some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

"The strength of our communities is incredible, and I would like to thank businesses and our residents for their response to this crisis.

"If we continue to show this community spirit, work together, support each other and find new ways to stay connected, we will get through this.”