Georgeham & Croyde Caring Community - A look back on the last 6 weeks
Following a conversation with a friend about how it would be good to get people together to look out for each other as the Corona Virus appeared on our Radar, the Georgeham & Croyde Caring Community Group was launched and we had our first- and only- meeting on the 18th March . This Group was thrown together very quickly to meet a need- and this has enabled us to act responsively and at speed to help at a time of great uncertainty and need. The lack of ‘red-tape’ has been a great help!
Our Parish is rural & coastal- consisting of the Villages of Georgeham and Croyde & the hamlets of North Buckland & Darracott. Croyde has many second homes but also a high percentage of residents over 70, Georgeham has a school & the Parish Church and a large number of older residents too. Both villages have a Post Office, and both are now operating as Village Stores as well since the lockdown. The Pubs and other businesses in the Villages have had to close due to the virus.
Our first task was to identify those who needed help in the community and to let people know what we could offer help with- so the area was leafleted with our intensions & contact details. A leaflet went through every door that was known to be lived in.
- The aim was to provide a doorstep service to help with:
- Shopping and collecting urgent supplies
- Help with ordering/ collecting medication
- Putting out bins
- Dog walking
- Posting mail
- A friendly phone call
We had an amazing response from local people who wanted to help and now have over 100 registered volunteers with a wide variety of skills. Every member on the register has agreed to the Group guidelines and has received information about Safeguarding. We are fortunate to have the help and support of local First responders and the Parish Council.
The local GP’s, Volunteer Services and Council have our contact details – and the word is out that we can & will help- or signpost to other services that can.
We set-up WhatsApp Groups for the two Villages and combined the two hamlets together and we use these to communicate between the volunteers and ‘post’ the jobs as they come in if applicable. This has proved a remarkably effective system!
Our biggest challenge in the early days was getting Pharmacy collections for people as the Pharmacy in Braunton was overwhelmed. We encouraged as many as were able to register with online pharmacy deliveries but had to resort to queuing – one person was in the queue for 5 hours! Things have settled now, and we have a Rota in place to cover collections. Any collections outside Braunton are picked up by people who are travelling into Barnstaple or Woolacombe and are usually combined with shopping trips – if anyone is going to do any shopping or travelling for work- they will often post to let us know so that we can make use of their trip.
It became clear early on that being able to shop locally was vital for some members of the Community as online slots are difficult to get and not suitable for everyone. Both Post Offices stepped up to the task & are now retailing fresh produce as well as staples- and are providing a delivery service for those self-isolating. Both shops are assisted by volunteers with these deliveries…getting a daily paper was one of the first requests I had!
As time has progressed- it has become evident that it is not just the elderly and self-isolating who are going to need help & support and we have now established a Food parcel service for those in need. There is a donation box at each Village Store as well as an account for the Group at each so that people can donate money to buy goods from the local Store- thus helping to support them too. A link has been made with the local school as we felt they would know where help may be needed, and 7 families have been identified to have a weekly food box so far. These boxes will be collected using a number system to maintain anonymity.
A Grant from Fullabrook CIC has enabled us to offer a mileage allowance to volunteers and to cover some of the costs that will be incurred.
Random Acts of Kindness, excess plants distributed to people, a meal rota was established (within ½ hour!) to support one elderly gentleman who a local Carer had flagged up as needing a bit of extra help, Rainbows and Teddy bears have appeared all over the Village- … two local budding Rockstars playing on Thursday night for the NHS Clap…including Happy Birthday for Captain Tom last night! Local children who have struggled with being unable to play at the Park and wondering if it will ever be open again …but have been thrilled to follow Daddy’s sheep down the road- which wouldn’t be possible in ‘normal’ times. Seeing Hares sitting in the middle of the fields…all the birds extremely busy! We are even more aware of how lucky we are to live here.
Times have been- and will continue to be – very hard for some- but the Community is doing what it can to help each other out- and we are all lifted by knowing that people care – and will do whatever they can to get through it together.