A WARTIME spirit has seen communities pull together to ensure the elderly and vulnerable are cared for during the coronavirus crisis.
As measures to control the virus are ramped up, residents across Warwickshire are teaming-up to provide physical and emotional support – from collecting essential shopping and prescriptions to chats on the phone – in the face of the escalating outbreak.
It comes as health secretary Matt Hancock prepares plans to quarantine over 70s, for up to four months, in a bid to shield them from the illness. Many older people with pre-existing health conditions have already taken the decision to self-isolate to cut their risk.
Facebook groups have been set up across the county with some amassing more than 1,000 members in just 24 hours.
Kate Bamford from Warwick and Leamington Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group said: “The group has grown very quickly. We have more than 1,000 members on the group and 150 people signed up on the website to help, ranging from people agreeing to do full shops to people who want be on the end of a phone to help avoid loneliness in case of isolation.”
And Kim Kircali, who helped set up Southam Community Spirit, said the response had been amazing.
She told the Observer: “The group was set up to help vulnerable people in the Southam area who may be self isolating due to having coronavirus symptoms or simply being too scared to go out in case they contract it.
“We are happy to help with shopping or just a phone or video call to keep a contact with the outside world. We want to let as many people as possible know that we will help them if they need us.
“The response from local people wanting to join the group and help people out has been really amazing.”
Stratford upon Avon Town Support has been set up by district councillor Gill Cleeve and has nearly 1,000 members in a number of days.
She said: “It’s been incredible to see the offers of help come in.
“There is no question this pandemic is causing our town’s economy to suffer which will affect so many of our residents. Also the NHS is being stretched, so it critical now that we all do our part to slow the spread of the virus.
“It is vital that residents, especially those considered vulnerable follow the government guidelines and stay at home as much as possible. If anyone needs help please get in touch via the Facebook group.”
Covid 19 Support Kenilworth and a number of groups in Rugby – Rugby Community Corona Support, Helping Elderly and Vulnerable Neighbours in Corona Virus Emergency, and Contagious Kindness – Coronavirus Help in Rugby – have also been set up.
Rugby community nurse Amy Fraser said: “It is becoming very apparent that there are now many elderly people who have been left with nothing due to the ridiculous panic buying.
“Myself and my colleagues are now clubbing together to help provide some essentials for these people. These people are most vulnerable to the virus and yet we leave them with nothing – and there will be people out there with enough produce to last a year.
“If you see a community nurse and you have a little to donate please stop us and give, or just make sure you check on your neighbours.”
Warwickshire County Council leader Izzi Seccombe said while it was good people were helping, it was important hygiene advice was followed.
She told the Observer: “It’s heart-warming to see members of our communities pulling together to support neighbours, friends and family who are vulnerable at this present time, whether this is through practical action, such as dropping off supplies, or making more regular phone calls to help prevent isolation.
“If you are able to volunteer, make sure you do so safely and keep hygiene as a priority. Be mindful that your good intentions don’t put others at risk.
“I’d also encourage people who would welcome help to draw on the support of trusted family, friends and neighbours, and be aware of the risks of accepting support from strangers.
“If you are in a position to do so and you would like to volunteer, you can get in touch with Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action (CAVA).”
Search the name of a group on Facebook to join or request help.
Visit www.wcava.org.uk/volunteering for more information on volunteering with Warwickshire CAVA.