Sat, 28 Mar 2020
THATCHAM’S mayor has said there has been a fantastic response to an appeal to help people during the coronavirus pandemic.
Thatcham Town Council asked people to look out for their neighbours and reach out to people at high risk last week.
Town mayor Mike Cole said there had been a fantastic response, with more than 110 people responding to the call for volunteers as of Monday.
A community hub has been established in Newbury to offer advice for people to get help and find out how to volunteer during the pandemic.
Mr Cole said that things were evolving between the town council and the West Berkshire hub as to who is doing what.
But he added that anything from Thatcham was currently being referred to the town council.
Mr Cole said the main issue so far had been Boots Pharmacy asking for help delivering medicines.
The town council has set up an email group of volunteers and Mr Cole said that 15 volunteers responded to the request within half-an-hour.
He said: “We have been talking to the Foodbank, they are closing their food centres as of Thursday and going to deliveries.
“We have offered the services of our volunteers there. Berkshire Vision are also reaching out to them and asking if they need anything.”
Helping people cope with isolation has been another area where people have stepped in to help.
Mr Cole said: “We have had a referral through from social services for one chap who was particularly depressed with it all.
“One of the volunteers is calling once a day to say you are not alone.
“We have not had any requests for basic shopping yet, but the response was fantastic and the response to individual requests for help has been fantastic.”
Mr Cole said that a wide range of volunteers had come forward, just in response to the town council’s appeal.
He said: “The vast majority have been people who are or have been carers or worked for the NHS.
“Fortunately we have got people who have been DBS [disclosure and barring service] checked.
“We have had people who can drive larger vehicles as well as using their own cars. A whole wide spectrum of volunteers and getting more in every day.
“It’s quite amazing the number of people who are prepared to do things. This is just our bit.
“A number of Whatsapp groups are being set up in streets across Thatcham.
“It’s not just our volunteers, it’s people doing more. We are just the tip of the iceberg.”
With the Government announcing further restrictions on social isolation and locking down on interaction, Mr Cole said: “I think at this stage we are inevitably going to get a lot more requests.
“There’s a whole new set of thoughts we have got to go through.
“The need is still going to be there, the need for medicine to be delivered if they can’t get out.
“We just need to make sure the people doing the deliveries for us are safe.”
People willing to volunteer to assist others in the town can contact the town council at firstname.lastname@example.org or via www.thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk/ and leave their name, email and/or telephone number, postcode and a note of any specialist skills.
The town council has closed the following local amenities in response to the virus – public toilets in Thatcham Broadway, the Frank Hutchings Community Hall, the Burdwood Community Centre and play areas
The following amenities remain open for now, but with restrictions: Henleys Allotments – essential access only and limited to one hour maximum; Thatcham Friday Market – food stalls only.