11th May 2020
Fairwood Helpers and Worplesdon community groups
Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis Fairwood Helpers – who received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2018 – have worked with, and alongside, other local community groups in the Worplesdon parish area of Guildford Borough to support vulnerable (often elderly) people.
Fairwood Helpers works with 68 clients; nearly all are regular users of the service, which is basically a good neighbour/driving scheme. Before the pandemic, the majority of the 45 volunteers were drivers for the medical appointments, shopping etc. The non-drivers manned the telephone daily between 10 am and 12 noon, to book drivers for those appointments.
Sue Harris, Chair of Fairwood Helpers, explains: “When we took the decision to stop driving, because one cannot self-isolate in a car, we took a further decision to contact clients and tell them that the telephone line is open 24/7. This was felt important as the vast majority live alone, well away from relatives, and may need help at any time.
“We have also allocated two or three names to a volunteer, so that all clients can be called at regular intervals to check that they are OK, or if they need any help with shopping etc. Essentially, these befriending calls are to keep them from feeling so isolated. We have only six volunteers under 70 and they have been called upon to do the shopping, delivering ready meals and any other errands – we cannot help with medical appointment at this time, of course. By the end of April our younger volunteers had completed 100 tasks.”
Shopping during Covid has been a problem as the elderly have been unable to access banks, ATMs or the Post Office. Cheque books have come into their own again! Ready meals, donated by COOK, have been delivered to the clients who need them. COOK have donated 40 meals a week; Fairwood Helpers have been informed that this is for a minimum of eight weeks. If food donations are received, they are distributed to families in the parish or given to the local food bank.
All volunteers are updated regularly with news of the work that Fairwood Helpers are continuing to help with. One of the volunteers commented that the conversations are getting longer as the Lockdown progresses! More information at: www.fairwoodhelpers.co.uk
Or contact: Sue Harris; 01483 237619; email firstname.lastname@example.org
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