OCA wellbeing: Volunteering
In the small village where I live, as soon as lock down started there was a call for villagers to volunteer to support our local community and shop by doing doorstep deliveries for the vulnerable, elderly, self isolating and key workers.
The shop is run by Hilary and Andrew and they are so accommodating, nothing is too much trouble. It’s a proper village shop, well stocked with quality provisions that they personally test and trial, they know their customers and have time for a chat, but as you can imagine, when lock down started our lovely shop was in great demand and inundated! To help cope with the demand a home delivery service was set up, and so the volunteer group was born. Brilliantly coordinated by a lady called Natalie, we found our feet, following completing a short questionnaire and writing down our availability; which for some was lots due to lock down! But others working full time and shifts we were happy to give the spare time they had. For me my day is Saturday as and when required due to working full time from home during the week. It was heart-warming to see so many people offer to help, and we are a volunteer group of nearly 30 which is incredible for a little village. A weekly rota is drawn up each week to give as many volunteers a chance to do their bit and spread the load.
We communicate via WhatsApp, and in addition to shop deliveries the group also offer collection of prescriptions, collection and posting of mail, dog walking for the self-isolating and a friendly chat for those on their own. Although we do not know each other, we are a versatile bunch and can usually sort out whatever is needed to help our community.
To book a delivery, customers either ring the shop with their order, or fill out an order form online.
On the Saturdays I have been called on to help, when I arrive the shop is always a hive of activity, dealing with customers queuing to enter the shop and staff dealing with preparing all the delivery boxes. Some deliveries are on foot if close by, but most via car, which is for the best as some of the boxes are full to the brim and very heavy!
Its all very organised and I really don’t know how Hilary, Andrew and their staff do everything they do, they are certainly putting in lots of additional hours to keep our village and surrounding area fed and watered.
When I drop shopping off some people like to have a distant chat, just general stuff about the weather and how they are coping, while others are very regimented and want their shopping leaving at the end of the drive and they come and collect, everyone is dealing with this pandemic in their own way and has to do what they feel is right, I completely respect that. I think people are missing the routine they once had. I find myself making the same deliveries every Saturday I am on duty so for me that is people trying to cling onto a bit of normality – a routine.
Thanks to the generosity of a pub in the next village, we have free fish & chips delivered every Friday for the elderly, vulnerable and key workers. Anyone can nominate beneficiaries, and the volunteers deliver them to the selected households. This act is truly amazing and the gratitude is palatable, some really deserving people have benefited, and some have been brought to tears when we turn up to deliver, I think this is a sign of how Covid-19 has effected the nation, we appreciate any acts of kindness even more than every before!
This is just my summary of what is happening in our village, but groups the same as this are running throughout the country. I think this is a great example of the very worst situations bringing out the very best in human kindness. For me it’s been a great distraction from the confinement of home and lack of contact with family and friends, it has been a privilege to be part of such a group and I will continue to do my bit as long as I am needed; in fact I’m going to miss it when I have to stop!
Have you found volunteering or giving in some way helpful during this time?