Hey, guess what? I’ve got the callup and I’m down the Bin tomorrow to get chipped! Only kidding, but I am being vaccinated. Although I’d still recommend you refrain from hugging me, as much as I know you yearn to, but try to resist the urge; I’m still me and I still smell a bit!
Between lockdowns someone said to me they enjoyed the first lockdown; it was peaceful and there was a sense of community spirit about the town; obviously doesn’t go on Facebook much! But yes, there the big question is, will it continue after this madness has said its farewells? Only we can achieve this.
As things start to look positive and fingers and toes are crossed, it is good to hear from Jonathan Hunter of the volunteer group set up to provide help, services, information and also companionship, Love Devizes, as they plan to continue their sterling work in our community.
“We are still here as it’s clear that loneliness, isolation or those who don’t have support infrastructures isn’t just a pandemic thing,” he tells me. “We’ve kept going and many of our fantastic volunteer team have said they are keen to continue after the next phase of restrictions are lifted. My plan is that Love Devizes carries on and helps those in need after the pandemic if the community still need support.”
The helpline is still operating from Monday to Friday, 9-12, and supporting many people outside those hours. “We are still shopping, picking up prescriptions, supporting the vaccination programme and we help with transport to various medical appointments in Bath, Oxford and Swindon,” Jonathan explains. “We also operate a befriending network with dedicated and experienced volunteers who make regular phone support calls to those are lonely.”
I know I’m hardly a spokesman for the town, but I’d imagine we are all eternally grateful for all the hard work the Love Devizes team has accomplished and performed, and a whooping great big thank you is overdue. They’ve managed to support over 6000 people in the past year.
“I’m currently working on scheme whereby I hope to buddy up volunteers with those who’ve been isolated or shielding and support them when they make their first trips outside,” he continued. “My plan is to team up with a few local cafes or pub gardens and we would pay for these residents who’ve been locked down and treat them to a coffee and cake with a friendly companion which will help make that first step outside easier. I’ve budgeted some funds to try and make this happen with the people we know who’ve been badly affected with isolation.”
So, please, no suffering in silence, if you are someone, or know someone who may be in need, the helpline will carry on running, which is fantastic news. The team have also started some partnerships with other charities and organisations, working together to help people with independence, i.e. Opendoors and Wiltshire CIL.
Helpline – 01380 722160
Meanwhile, over in Pewsey, the PCCA have been serving the community now for just over a year, with several services and activities set up in response to the pandemic which have adapted to the community’s changing needs. While some of these services have been reduced, many have increased and have become invaluable to many members of the Pewsey community, and this amazing work will be continuing too.
Currently operating from their Scout Hall, the PCCA tell me they’ve “recently applied for and been granted a £5K grant by Wiltshire Council towards a converted double decker bus to be used to continue our much-needed services in Pewsey. PCCA will fund the balance of the purchase as well as maintenance, insurance and running costs. It is possible that we could use the bus for many activities within the community and would be open to partnering with likeminded charities and groups in Pewsey as needed.”
“We continue to offer vital services to our community including, BURP (Basic Universal Resource Plan) essential food and household supply boxes going out each week to families in need in and around Pewsey. Community Meals: Over 30 freshly cooked hot meals going to those in most need each week. Pewsey Foodshare: We organise food donations twice weekly from local supermarkets and the general public to reduce food waste and to serve the local community.”
“Creative Communities: (The Spirit of Pewsey, Spring To Life etc) unifies our neighbourhoods with creative activity. We try to brighten up people’s lives by organising creative things to get involved in while adding a bit of sparkle and colour to where we live, work and play. All of 9 schools got involved in creating artwork together for our current Creative Communities project ‘Spring To Life’.”
“The Buddy Crew: PCCA volunteers who are in touch with those isolating, helping prevent loneliness and mental health deterioration, and now helping people to get out and about.”
“Pewsey Friendship Cafe & Community Market: our free, spatially distanced safe space for those who desperately need social connection with free tea, coffee and cake and fresh fruit & veg produce to take home afterwards.”
The PCCA also work together with Wiltshire Libraries to deliver services through click and collect and to the doorstep. Another huge thank you goes out to this team, and long may they both continue.
Helpline: 01672 487022
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