Eastington Coronavirus Community Volunteers

Eastington has always been a community driven by the power of its brilliant volunteers, and this has never been demonstrated better than with the local response to the corona virus.
When we started we didn’t know what was needed or how we should respond – however it didn’t feel like doing nothing was an option! Once it looked like lockdown was really coming, a Facebook group was quickly established for volunteers ready to act. We set up a phone line open every morning to take requests from anyone in need of a little help, and swung into action.
We have taken requests for a wide range of services, from just checking in to make sure people are OK to posting packages, collecting prescriptions and walking dogs. Initially we also undertook individual shopping requests but later, working closely with the Co-op, we were able to assist in their phone shopping service where people are able to call the store and place an order to be delivered by one of our volunteers. Our Co-Op have been outstanding in this crisis and I’m sure I speak for everyone when I offer them our thanks.
Our phone holders take the calls and post requests on our facebook page where any group member can volunteer to take on a task. I have been constantly amazed by the helpfulness and responsiveness of our volunteers, I have never known a group be so accommodating; no request ever went unanswered.
We have been reliant on our rota volunteers, they have been staffing the phone line and taking out Co-op deliveries on a weekly basis, this commitment has meant that we have been able to provide a service that our community could rely on.
Supporting people who were self isolating has been an important part of stopping the spread. We have been able to support people who are staying in to protect themselves but also those who are staying at home as they might be symptomatic, helping to reduce any potential local spread.
Long-standing volunteers in the community often talk about the ‘same old faces’ running the community projects, and the lack of new volunteers. Refreshingly this crisis has encouraged lots of new volunteers to get involved, bringing fresh energy and ideas. Hopefully they have found that volunteering is a wonderfully rewarding way to connect with people and contribute to the community.
The requests have been slowing down in the last month or so and as a result we no longer open the phone line every morning, but the phone is checked every day for messages, and requests will still be fulfilled.
The number remains the same 07495 302263 – and your message will be answered within 24 hours.
Hopefully, as the situation eases, we will be able to wind down the service further but we will be keeping all the systems in place in case of a local lockdown or outbreak.

Jennifer Empson