Tue, 23 Feb 2021
FOR more than 30 years, the East Woodhay and Highclere Neighbourcare group has played a vital role in the community, driving elderly and vulnerable residents to their medical appointments.
At the beginning of lockdown, Neighbourcare found a new purpose after it received a call for help from Woolton Hill Surgery to deliver a backlog of around 120 prescriptions.
Ten volunteers cleared the outstanding medication drop-offs over the following three days, and a system was quickly set up with the help of volunteer drivers to collect and deliver medication all over Woolton Hill and the surrounding villages.
The group also organised well-being calls to its clients, going through its client list and contacting every person to check if they were okay and if they would like a regular call from one of the group’s volunteers.
Eleven months into the pandemic, with the vaccination rollout well under way, the group has yet again found a new role, as a volunteer driver service, taking clients for their jabs at Newbury Racecourse and elsewhere.
Chairwoman of the group Sarah Garland said it had been a lifeline for the community since the pandemic struck last year.
She said: “The group has been extremely important for the local community – it’s been a lifeline for those people who were unable to go out.
“The key thing, and probably why we all volunteer for Neighbourcare, is to help people in our local community who aren’t able to get to their medical appointments, and that’s always been our key role.
“We’ve enhanced our services I’d say.
“We’ve added other things which people really need at the moment because they’re unable to get out of their house and they wouldn’t receive those things if we didn’t step in to help them.
“It’s even more important now to be a community resource.”
Group treasurer Mark Rand, who is also an East Woodhay Parish councillor, said the group had been vital over the past year, but always had been.
He said: “We used to take clients to medical appointments, and in the last 11 months we haven’t done as many of those for obvious reasons.
“So it’s transitioned to other things and supporting the community in other ways, largely through prescriptions, and now the main thing is getting them to their vaccination appointment.
“The group is critical now but it always was critical – going to a cancer appointment for example has always been pretty important, and we’ve just morphed the organisation.
“What was really pleasing was how quickly the organisation moved to working much closer with the Kintbury and Woolton Hill Surgery.
“That was where we’ve almost been a partnership.”
For more information about the group, visit https://ewhneighbourcare.org.uk/