West Berkshire Council

Hungerford

Read about what's been happening in Hungerford


Hungerford Self Isolation Support Network

If you live in the Hungerford area and you need help, contact Geordie on 07836 330815 or send an email to: HungerfordSelfIsolation@gmail.com 

 


Article: All about the Hungerford Self Isolation Support Network

The Community Support Hub was delighted to touch base with Geordie Taylor, who founded the Hungerford Self Isolation Support Network to connect volunteers with community members in need of support, especially during the first lockdown.

Claire Barnes, Town Clerk, Hungerford Town Council said to Geordie and his team: "I would like to say a big thank you to you personally on behalf of Hungerford Town Council for co-ordinating the support network, and please pass on our gratitude to all the 260 volunteers who came forward. Hungerford is blessed to have such a caring and generous community."

We wanted to be sure to document the amazing efforts of this wonderful group, and invited Geordie to provide us with an overview of the support network. We also asked Geordie how the group transitioned and adapted as we came out of the first lockdown over the summer. We are grateful for Geordie's account, which follows:

Supporting self-isolating residents in Hungerford, by Geordie Taylor

2020 - Hungerford high street
2020 - Hungerford high street
 Hungerford Self Isolation Support Network was set up a week before the first lockdown back in March and ultimately has supported more than 300 households. Throughout the first lockdown in spring and early summer, the efforts of 260 volunteers were very helpful to many people who needed to isolate, and even critical to some of our more vulnerable or frail residents.

Even as we came out of that lockdown, and our services were therefore less required, we were able to maintain small regiment of reliable volunteers to look after those who still needed shopping, prescriptions, and so on. This included providing some extra support during the second lockdown in November.

The strategy when the network started was to deliberately assign volunteers to clients, thus creating many relationships that will no doubt endure long after. I split the town into 11 precincts with each having a more-or-less equal share of volunteers and clients. Our support network's availability was promoted to residents via leaflets, Facebook and word of mouth.

As a network, we have performed several key tasks for our clients: grocery shopping, prescriptions, dog-walking, phone-a-friend, food banks, transport to appointments and cooking hot meals.

Shopping was the dominant requirement for most volunteers and many relationships with clients developed over the months. Tesco granted our network priority access to assist our frequent shoppers through to September. After restrictions eased and people were able to come out of isolation, where practical and agreeable, I began to introduce clients to the brave new world of on-line shopping.

Prescription delivery has been a resounding success, with just a handful of people (and a hot-line) providing a drug delivery service to anybody in Hungerford and further afield who's asked for our help. We arranged a daily collection service at Boots and our volunteers delivered more than 800 prescription drugs up until the end of July.

In June, I personally called and spoke with every person who had used our prescription delivery service at least twice over the previous three months (there were 121 of them). I asked them the question "How will you manage if we're not here to get the prescriptions for you?"

Their response fit into three camps:

  • "No problem, we'll be out and about as lockdown eases and will get them ourselves." We knew that this would group would be able look after themselves exactly as they did before lockdown, although several asked if they could have some masks, just to ease the anxiety of stepping out for the first time.
  • "We'll register with an on-line pharmacy and the prescriptions will be delivered to the door." I researched this extensively and created a small team of IT gurus to visit households to assist with registration. I have also spoken with senior management at the surgery and were happy to be on board to assist.
  • "I can't manage - I still need someone's help." Most importantly, we now know who these people are so that we can continue to provide vital support.

On the transport side, throughout the lockdown we were able to provide lifts to surgery and hospital appointments through the assistance of Marc @ 1st Direct Taxis (free of charge) and volunteers' private cars. The volunteer group CHAIN is now taking regular clients to and from the shops and appointments.

For food parcels, we registered households with the West Berks Food Bank, who thereafter took care of things very well, and has been wonderfully supportive. The Phone-a-friend service was out-sourced to Hungerford Rotary and they've performed admirably.

Like all, we at the Hungerford Self Isolation Support Network hope that the worst of the coronavirus emergency is over. However, in the weeks and months ahead, you can be assured that ultimately, all those that continue to need our help will receive it. I am humbled and grateful for the support of all our amazing volunteers.