Dudley cafe owner is a ‘lockdown hero’ after feeding vulnerable residents

MP Marco Longhi nominated Paula Goodyear after she organised meals for elderly and vulnerable people

A Dudley cafe owner is being presented with a Community Connectors Award by digital network provider Openreach in recognition for her efforts during lockdown.

Paula Goodyear, who runs Fountain Arcade Cafe (Market Place) organised meals and the delivery of essentials for elderly and vulnerable local residents, ensuring they were not left in need. She was nominated by Marco Longhi MP.

Openreach launched the Community Connectors Awards in 2020 to recognise individuals and groups for their work supporting local residents and vulnerable neighbours during lockdown. More than 130 nominations from MPs across the UK were judged by the panel including Openreach engineers and former Culture Secretary, Baroness Nicky Morgan of Cotes.

Clive Selley, Chief Executive of Openreach, said: “We were inspired to launch the Community Connectors Awards by the efforts of our engineering team. The stories received from across the country have been inspiring and show how many people are working to make a difference and support their neighbours during lockdown.

“Paula hasn’t sought recognition, but she is a wonderful example to the local community. I’m delighted and very grateful to be able to thank her for everything she has done to support the vulnerable in our society.”

Paula Goodyear said: “Thank you very much for this award. It’s not only myself, it’s for my whole team. We continue to do what we can for vulnerable people and I’ll continue to do my best until the lockdown is over. Thanks for your continued support.”

Marco Longhi MP (Dudley North), who highlighted the work taking place at Fountain Arcade Café, said: “Paula Goodyear is a true community champion. Everyone who knows her will recognize her kind hearted efforts supporting vulnerable and isolated people during the Covid pandemic often at personal expenses. Paula has done this while her own business has suffered keeping employees on her books and having been quite ill herself. If anyone deserves this award I know Paula does.”

As key workers, Openreach engineers have connected numerous field hospitals up and down the UK within days, also performing vital maintenance to keep families and businesses online and in contact during lockdown. Members of the engineering team have also camped out in remote parts of the UK to ensure local connectivity and volunteered in their spare time – performing roles including as delivery drivers for NHS blood supplies.