coronavirus Isolation Help Group Local News

Isolation Evolution: A thank you

Andover Isolation Help Group
Isolation Help Group

The Andover Self Isolation Help Group has been one of lockdown’s great successes.

Everything evolves. From a kernel of an idea really early-on, local teacher Tori Rist knew there may be trouble ahead. To combat the issues that people in Andover would face as coronavirus spread across the world, she created a group with a small number of volunteers to help the town’s most vulnerable.

She didn’t expect it to grow to an organisation of over 140 volunteers, the go-to place for school meals or a group which would deliver up to 120 prescriptions each day for over 65s.

As our lockdown experience changes and many volunteers return to work, the group itself must evolve – taking onboard the experiences learned and some users’ ongoing needs.

Since March 11th 2020 the Group have delivered over 1,200 food packages to people with no other form of support like carers, family or friends. But as demand decreases there are still a great many people across our part of North West Hampshire who will still need some form of support.

Here, founder Tori Rist gives her thanks to everyone who has worked to create something special in Andover as the Group grows into a more sustainable service for the future and Tori moves on to develop her next amazing project:

“How has it been nearly 15 weeks since myself, Nickie, Tamsin and Vicky started the Andover Isolation Group? Whilst I may have had the initial idea, it wouldn’t have been as successful without the help of those wonderful people. The dedication, commitment and sheer determination to make this work by the Admin team and every single volunteer has been overwhelming.

“Many of the Admin team, and volunteers have their own families (some with young children) yet people have tried hard to juggle their commitments whilst giving time to the people of Andover.  We have had the privilege to work with Unity, Veterans in Action, the Borough Council and other voluntary groups and organisations who have also worked tirelessly to support our community.

“From commencement, the operation has been central to the Queen Charlotte Inn and I will be forever grateful to Vicki and David for allowing their home to be taken over by the group. 

Upon falling ill myself, in early April, the team ensured that the group ran seamlessly and didn’t once complain about taking up the slack.  As time went on I realised that meeting the needs of my 2 small children and working full time without children care was going to mean I needed to step back a bit.  The team have continued to run the group brilliantly and really bent over backwards to help anyone who needed support.

“As we return to our new normal, the need for the group in its current form will decrease.  However, I am so pleased that Vicki now wants to continue the group and supporting the vulnerable and isolated in our community. I am sure that more details will follow.

“So as I officially step down from the Andover Isolation Group I would just like to give heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you who helped to make this happen.  This has been a really tough time to navigate for a lot of us but knowing how our community can pull together, in times of need, somehow makes it easier.

We thank Tori for her kindness, her foresightedness and her commitment to this amazing Group and Love Andover are proud to announce its evolution to the ‘Love Andover Isolation Help Group’ from Monday 29th June 2020.

With help from 95.9FM Andover Radio, the National Lottery and a number of key individuals in the town we will provide the Group with all the assets, finance and training needs they require to continue its evolved service to one that can keep helping those most at risk in and around Andover.

We will also be hosting a festival-style ‘Thank You’ party as part of our ‘Andover Unlocked’ campaign for those who have given their time, experience and emotion to the development of the Group (when government guidelines permit, of course).

For now, Tori – thank you. We think you’re amazing.

About the author

David Harber

David Harber is the founder and Managing Director of Love Andover, including the Love Andover Observer newspaper and 95.9FM Andover Radio. He is a fellow at the Royal Society of Arts and a card carrying member of the Nation Union of Journalists.