It’s “Only essential items that we deliver”, says Andover’s Isolation Help Group after their busiest day.
The group have been exceptionally busy today collecting and delivering food and essential items for people most in need; the town’s elderly, vulnerable and most at risk.
The group of volunteers was initially set-up by local lady Tori Rist to assist people and families in self-isolation, but things have changed and their workload has increased dramatically.
They have delivered almost 60 packages in the past three days.
Calls for packets of cigarettes and bottles of whiskey are being politely declined. Whereas genuine calls from people in need between 10.00am to 7.00pm on 01264 748 946 are dealt with seriously.
“I think we’ve got a hard job ahead”, says coordinator Victoria Harber based at the Queen Charlotte Inn. “We have delivered many, many more packages than we expected to people in need today. Today we delivered nine food boxes and collected fifteen prescriptions.”
On the advice of local Community Voluntary Service charity Unity, the group have insurances and safeguarding measures in place to ensure they comply with the law and protect ‘customers’ and their own volunteers. Unity are hosting the borough’s Coronavirus Helpline: 0330 400 4166.
The leader of Test Valley Borough Council was part of their team of over 50 volunteers today, helping to deliver collect and deliver prescriptions to isolated people in Andover.
This follows yesterday’s announcement from government that everyone except key workers should stay at home. This effort is part of the new mantra, “stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives”.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock this evening announced plans to recruit 250,000 volunteers to help the NHS. He said at a press conference, “We are seeking a quarter of a million volunteers… for the delivery of medicines and support those who are shielding to protect their own health”
As we uncovered today, some people have had to queue for over two hours to collect prescriptions while keeping an appropriate distance from each other. So called, ‘Social distancing’ means stay at least 2 metres from anyone else.
“We had a lovely man of 84 years old call today and he asked for help with basic groceries,” adds Victoria Harber. “But in the call, he also said he had spent 2 hours queuing for a prescription, only to be told they didn’t have all of it.
“We were happy to collect that for him and in the first instance an 84-year old man should not be stood up for that period of time. But more importantly, it’s time we all worked together to help each other.
“It was humbling to hear the thanks he gave us on the phone afterwards.”
The team running Andover Isolation Help Food are still looking for volunteers to help collect and deliver parcels, “only people who are serious about helping” are asked to get in contact.
Food and parcels of essential items are being collected from the Queen Charlotte Inn by locally based charity Veterans in Action (VIA). Their team collected items this afternoon – within clinical guidelines – and delivered packages to those in need around the Test Valley.