Lorna Ward and her husband set up at local community network in Grateley village just in time for lockdown.
They started off with a simple flyer, which was mass produced by their neighbour, Richard, which was then delivered to every house in the village, by local villagers who were keen to get involved.
Lorna Ward tells us, “Emails came flooding in. People were offering help, advice and information. We got an email from Nick, one of the villagers who’d decided we needed a website and, being an IT guru himself, had whipped one up for us overnight. Three days later, we had more than 80 people on the network.
People were lining up to offer help with shopping, picking up prescriptions, listening on the phone and anything else that came up. Others wrote in saying how relieved they were they had someone to call on should they need to.
“We canvassed the village for skills that might come in useful to others during the time ahead and realised we had retired medical staff, teachers, councillors, delivery drivers, builders, IT experts, and financial and legal experts. We even had a young lad, whose Duke of Edinburgh Award had been all but scuppered by the coronavirus, offering out his services for odd jobs and gardening.
“We’ve been able to direct people and advise over the phone about their money worries caused by Coronavirus. We’ve passed on home-schooling tips to parents left climbing the walls with energetic children, wielding crayons dangerously close to treasured curtains. We’ve brought in local businesses and touted their growing delivery and take-away trade to help keep them going too. Young Tom is slowly clocking up DofE tasks after clearing the pub car park of fallen branches and leaves.
“Our telephone network offers an ear to those struggling with the isolation and our resident IT geeks have introduced neighbours to the joys of Zoom and Facetime, linking them up with their loved ones abroad.”
They have also set up a board next to the village phone box book exchange in the village where homemade face masks are available, which have been made by one of their volunteers. Anyone who is in need of one or feels vulnerable can pick one up and pop a donation into the money box. The face masks are made from off-cuts of material that they have gathered together from various households in Grateley.