Go Operation Teddy Bear!

If I’ve been rather quiet on Devizine recently I apologise. I’ve been enjoying some family time while the kids are home, and mores to the point, bestowed one of these “keyworker” badges, the real job has never been busier. Yet despite the lack of usual content regarding events and gigs, there’s still subjects to write about, perhaps none so much as the way the community has bonded during these trying times.

To watch those Americans causing havoc, protesting in the streets and then ironically catching Covid19 themselves is miles apart from how we’re reacting. There are so many to thank, from the key workers and NHS staff, to the masses who have flocked to volunteer for their local Covid19 support groups, such as Devizes Covid19 Support, and even to the simpler kind offerings, such as the wonderful Sujay’s Jerk Pan Kitchen who, with Sally of Tailor Made Events, supplied fifty meals for NHS staff this week.

There are groups and charities springing up everywhere, and people providing spontaneous acts of kindness, we have to tip our hats to them. One I’d like to draw your attention to in particular, is the locally setup Operation Teddy Bear by Helen Bray, a team of volunteers and even a jogging Spiderman!

The operation is a specialist donator system, contacting intensive care units across the county. The hospitals send them requests for food, drinks and toiletries, which are donated at various non-physical points, collected and distributed direct to both the wards and staff. Helen explains, “most of the volunteers are care workers, nurses, ex-medical or NHS staff. We’re specialist donators supporting intensive care nurses, other nurses, doctors, NHS staff, care-workers, health professionals, and other special people who support others in hardship and need.”

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“The constructive donation list is designed by the very people that need the donation,” Helen continues, “which means minimum surplus, and any surplus can benefit the elderly, homeless, or a family who has no income. Donations which are given freely by the public is sending a powerful message to the very people who might save our lives, whilst risking their own.”

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Helen maintains her volunteers are family in our chat, I confess, I’m unsure if they’re direct family, or in her motivation for this great cause, she refers to them as such. “My family of volunteers want no praise,” she told us, “just to shine a light into endless cave of people suffering from Coronavirus, which I hope and pray, as many people as possible do, with our support, donations, and acts of kindness with all the donation, anyone wishes to give. As a little boy who came to donate a big carrier bag full of stuff said; I just want to help mend people.”

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Donation points are nonphysical contact donation boxes at Devizes Town Hall, Brickley Lane near the playpark with billboard outside, Fruitfields, Lavington, a new one at Urchfont, and ones in Pewsey, Burbage and Calne. Swindon also has two donation points.

“Operation Teddy Bear donates to Swindon Great Western, Salisbury District Hospital, Bath RUH, Bristol Southmead, Southampton and Bournemouth intensive care units,” Helen says, “St Johns Livingston in Scotland, any SOS from any London hospitals for PPE and links with many more support networks, especially for the elderly in the community, and the homeless if we receive specific lists for donations that are most use for them.”

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I’m impressed with the scale of this operation in the short time it has had to form, and thoroughly wish Helen and the team all our thanks and best wishes for their hard work. The news is spreading over social media, but I fail to see any online information websites in which to direct you to. However, if you would like to donate or volunteer, after all, even Spiderman is, feel free to contact us and we’ll put you in touch. This article wasn’t really intended to ask for donations or help primarily though, as the scheme has already gathered pace and support, it is mostly here to thank all in involved at such passion and dedication to this cause.

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