Almost all elements of our daily lives are being impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and Rotary clubs are no different. Fundraising events and humanitarian service projects which were scheduled for the coming months are being postponed, and Rotary clubs are gathering online rather than in person.
But, as Rotary clubs and members often do in times of need, they’re turning their attentions to how they can help.
One such club is Silloth Rotary in Cumbria who, as the prospect of long-term self-isolation looms for the over 70s, have been volunteering to pack and deliver support parcels for those who need them.
The packs contain essential items like hygiene products, toilet roll, food as well as items like puzzle books.
Speaking in the News & Star, Silloth Rotary’s President, Owen Martin, said: “We are worried how the elderly and vulnerable would be able to manage with this. So we decided to make some support packs to be delivered to people in the community.”
“We think it will help let people know they are not alone in a time of the unknown. It will be a scary time for many in communities around the country.”
The club have also included more information about how to get in touch with local volunteers, so social interaction is maintained.
“To just have someone to have a chat to on the phone or to collect some shopping will be a vital lifeline,” Owen continued.
“It’s extremely important and we would encourage people to check on their neighbours, family and friends who may also need help at this time.”
“One thing that really struck me is a lady who said she would love to volunteer but was over 70. But age isn’t a barrier to a volunteer as they would be the ideal people to help phone others for a chat.”
This concept of mobilising volunteers is also taking off in Maidenhead, as Maidenhead Bridge Rotary launched their ‘Covid-19 Volunteer Community Response Team’, made up of people willing to collect shopping, prescriptions, walk dogs, post mail and more.
We would encourage people to check on their neighbours, family and friends who may also need help at this time.”
Lisa Hunter, the project’s coordinator, commented: “Our worry is that people are being told to self-isolate for two weeks and at the end of that we find out that they haven’t had any food to eat or friendly support.”
“We want to make sure everybody has got somebody to keep them supplied.”
“We’ve already had a fair few volunteers sign up to help and are ready to do what Rotary does best, support our community.”
In Greater Manchester, Sale Rotary’s latest community support scheme is ensuring that elderly residents have been able to get to the shops for shopping as well as essential doctor and hospital appointments.
We want to make sure everybody has got somebody to keep them supplied.”
They have been working in collaboration with local taxi operators, Scotts Cars, to subsidise costs so that those in need can travel free of charge.
In Cambridgeshire, St Neots St Marys Rotary have been spreading the message of #ViralKindness. They have sponsored the printing of 10,000 postcards, where people who are able to help those self-isolating can fill in their details and distribute them locally.
It means the offer of collecting groceries, supplies, posting mail or even making with a friendly phone call is there for those who perhaps have no alternative but to rely on the kindness of a stranger or local volunteer.
In Lancashire, Ribblesdale Rotary have purchased hundreds of pounds worth of supermarket gift cards, which volunteers are then using to purchase supplies for those who need it, meaning no money is changing hands making the process more hygienic.
Over in Ireland, Limerick Thomond Rotary have been supporting a ‘Meals on Wheels’ scheme by donating dinner boxes to St. Munchin’s Community Centre, a local not-for-profit organisation who have seen increased demand since the outbreak.
Leatherhead Rotary, in Surrey, have compiled a list of local businesses who are still currently operating and providing important services, such as food and drink delivery, healthcare items and more, while also highlighting those offering a discount to NHS workers.
In Somerset, Crewkerne and District Rotary have made two donations; £500 to Lord’s Larder, a local food bank and £2,000 to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, two charities providing essential support. They are also welcoming people to their virtual gatherings. Club President, Jeremy Webb said: “It is important for our Rotary club to take action, and by working with other organisations we can make sure that we are coordinating our response to have the best impact.”
“We need to prioritise the safety of both the public and our volunteers, whilst doing everything we can to help our community and make sure that no-one is left behind.”
Coronavirus information and guidance
For more information and guidance on coronavirus, please visit the gov.uk website.
Is your club supporting the community during the coronavirus outbreak? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.