COVID-19 | Fighting Disease

Rotary responds with magnificent support to its communities during pandemic

Rotary responds with magnificent support to its communities during pandemic

As the UK enters its third week of lockdown, so Rotary clubs across the isles have continued to support their communities with a range of activities.

Rotary clubs across Great Britain & Ireland have stepped up to the plate during the current pandemic.

More than 50 different community activities are up and running to support those most vulnerable – and they are the ones which Rotary GB&I knows about.


In Hertfordshire, Ware Rotary took just 12 days to set up the Bricket Wood Rotary Community Corps. Immediate Past Rotary GB&I President, Debbie Hodge, has been instrumental in setting up the group.

“We had noticed that there were people asking what could they do to help in light of the Covid-19 pandemic,” explained Debbie. “And this was before the call for volunteers by the NHS and the government.

“In my village, I help run the Mums and Toddler group along with the local vicar Kylie Hodgins. The village has a well-used Facebook page, an active Neighbour Watch and a lively Residents Association.


“In the time before social distancing – although mindful not to get too close – we had a meeting and agreed that we needed a volunteer group, a mechanism for getting the message out that support was there and a way of providing some governance and safe working practices.

“The Facebook page generated the volunteers, a poster and leaflet were agreed giving a dedicated e mail and phone number and a Rotary Community Corps gave us the structure and governance.”

Rotary Ware agreed to become the sponsor club and now, in less than a fortnight, they have 23 volunteers.

They comprise a variety of skills ranging from compliance, financial management, languages other than English, audit and project management, dog walking and boarding, teaching, a police officer and two surveyors.

We had noticed that there were people asking what could they do to help in light of the Covid-19 pandemic,”

Debbie said that the group has sorted out paper delivers to those out of the delivery area, hospital transport, food deliveries, collection and delivery of food orders, collection and posting of parcels, and the collection and delivery of prescriptions form the local pharmacy.

“This safety net for the village is working on many levels,” she explained.

“It is giving those who want to help a platform to do that and helping their sense of worth, for those in need a mechanism to get help and the comfort of knowing that there is help locally, and for the whole village a feeling of being cared for.

“We may not have many calls for our services but we have already to made a difference, and by working together and caring for each other we will continue to support those in the village.”


In County Kildaire, Ireland, Newbridge Rotary has established a volunteer group within the club to deliver prescription medicine to the elderly and those who cannot visit the pharmacy.

In consultation with the local Gardai, the club has written to all pharmacies in the town letting them know of the group.

Wearing personal protective equipment, the Rotarians collect the medicine from the pharmacy, which they deliver to those in need.

The club has also bought a dedicated mobile phone, whose number has been shared with the Gardai and local authority in case they need the Rotarians’ help urgently.


Also in Ireland, in Tullamore, County Offaly, President Frank Kelly reports that they are “healthy and in high spirits”.

He said: “We’re in the happy position to have a lot of members who are connected with Tullamore Hospital, Offaly County Council, local radio and many charitable organisations.”

Frank explained that they were working together to provide help in Tullamore through daily updates and appeals via their WhatsApp group.

We’re in the happy position to have a lot of members who are connected with Tullamore Hospital, Offaly County Council, local radio and many charitable organisations.”

They were involved with food collection and delivery for the needy in association with the An Gárda Síochána network.

Using the club’s contacts, they were able to distribute hand sanitiser and protective healthcare gear, while distributing money to an ongoing fund to provide food parcels for needy or isolated families and individuals.


Richard Hughes from Llandeilo Rotary Club in Carmarthenshire

Elsewhere, scores of Rotary clubs are also making direct donations to food banks, sharing the money they would have paid from their weekly meetings. The Trussell Trust is one of the chief beneficiaries.

Richard Hughes from Llandeilo Rotary Club in Carmarthenshire, West Wales, and who lives in a village called Talley, has set up a community group in his village called Talley United.

The 68-year-old, who retired from working at the Port Talbot Steelworks, admitted a challenge for him during this crisis is to look after his wife, who has had cancer three times, and is currently in remission.

“This damages her immune system, and therefore isolation is important,” he said.

Talley United is a group of people who get out in the community to do the shopping and collect prescriptions for the vulnerable. Richard tends to get to his local shop, which is seven miles away, for just after 7am.


Also in Wales, Rotarians are the Cardiff East club have stepped up their work with their local foodbank during this crisis.

Club President, Paul Cotter, explained that their partnership with the foodbank stretches back a few years. “I have been a volunteer for a while,” he said.

“We have had the foodbank come to our club to talk about the work they do, and the contribution they make to other people’s lives in the local community.

“Previously, many of us as individuals had been making contributions to the foodbank separately, or through their local churches.

We have had the foodbank come to our club to talk about the work they do, and the contribution they make to other people’s lives in the local community.”

“Last year, Cardiff East Rotary decided to make the foodbank as a club project. The club makes a food donation once a month – we call it ‘Pudding Wednesday’. We make both financial and food donations to the food bank.

“During the recent floods, Cardiff Foodbank helped by taking donations to the valley communities who had been hit hardest by the storms. They will need further donations during the coronavirus outbreak.”


Rotary clubs assisting with coronavirus outbreak

Silloth – Packing and distributing essential support parcels including food, hygiene items, puzzle books and more. Take a look at the full story here.

Maidenhead Bridge – Launched an appeal for local volunteers willing to collect shopping, prescriptions, walk dogs, post mail and more. Also helping those families on free school meals. So far have supported 54 local people and had support from 61 volunteers. For more information on how to volunteer visit their website.

Sale – 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. 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.

St Neots St Marys – 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.

Ribbleside – 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.

Limerick Thomond – 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 – compiled a list of local businesses who are operating during the outbreak and providing important services such as food, drink and health care delivery while also highlighting those offering a discount to NHS workers.

Crewkerne and District – made two donations totalling £2,500 to a local foodbank and also the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

In Reading – Eight Rotary clubs in the town are working together in similar fashion collecting prescriptions, fetching urgent supplies, posting mail, dog walking and providing a friendly phone call to those who are self-isolating. Also encouraging children to write letters to nursing homes or to an elderly neighbour.

Lytham – Volunteering as part of a local coalition of organisations and businesses to offer assistance with urgent supplies, shopping, dog walking, phone calls etc.

Gordano Breakfast – members have donated their usual breakfast meeting meal to Clevedon District Foodbank who are experiencing shortages.

Tonbridge – donated £500 to the food charity, Families Eating and Sharing Together (FEAST), which helps families unable to obtain free school meals.

Sittingbourne Invicta – donated £1,000 to Swale Foodbank

Bradford West – supporting Bradford Metropolitan Foodbank to supply dependent families. Club is using social media to provide a regular list of wanted items.

Kings Hill and Sittingbourne Invicta – opening their community funds for applications for funds from small clubs and groups

Maidstone Dawn Patrol – have been taking regular exercise litter-picking whilst maintaining social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.

Romney Marsh – been involved in setting up of the Romney Marsh Support Hub. The group includes a number of charities, including foodbanks, as well as local church leaders, Kent Police, councils, doctors’ surgeries, scout groups and community wardens. The aim of the Hub is to ensure there is a consistent and factually correct message going out to the public and avoid duplication of effort

Shrewsbury Severn – donate £500 to a local primary school which is open to children of key workers.

Chippenham – providing urgent supplies to those self-isolating, including packing and distributing food parcels in collaboration with local supermarkets, supplying fresh fruit and veg, bread and tinned goods.

Normanton – donation to The Well Project which provides positive activities for the community to engage with, including a foodbank and youth club.

Epworth & Isle of Axholme – part of a ‘Good Neighbours’ scheme, a partnership between voluntary and trad organisations which has fed 16 families, including 27 adults and 37 children.

Glenrothes – Handing out leaflets on behalf of a local community centre who are assisting residents during the outbreak.

Eckington & District – club member Philip Staton is volunteering with the local Age UK group to deliver food parcels to those in need.

Llandeilo – Club member Richard Hughes is hosting a weekly online ‘pub quiz’ as well as supporting residents in the village of Talley by purchasing food and prescriptions.

Fareham Meon – purchased a library trolley so books for a local care home could be easily transported around the building for residents confined to their rooms. Club is also directing funds to a local foodbank, totalling £1,000 so far. Also donated £700 to a village in Australia which was recently hit by wildfires and now coronavirus.

Sheffield – club members have signed up for the NHS volunteer scheme, with one member Mark Casson already cycling around the city to deliver medicine to the vulnerable.

Wymondham – members are involved in delivering a volunteer scheme supporting the village’s 550 residents, many of them elderly, offering practical help from food delivery to chats on the phone.

Ipswich – Rotary member John Skeates has created a neighbourhood WhatsApp group for local residents to talk, answer eachother’s questions and request support. Over 90 people are now connected so far.

In Kettering – members are maintaining contact with visitors to their regular dementia café as well as working with the Salvation Army and Sikh Gurdwara to distribute available food from a local Tesco store.

In East Midlands – planning a significant, long-term food bank support project which includes financial and practical assistance for the network of food banks in the region.

Ellon – donated £2,000 worth of supermarket gift cards to Ellon Food Bank which they said would be life-saving. The money was raised through community fundraising activities earlier in the year.

Louth – funding to several local groups to help some of our most vulnerable people and has already given out more than £3000. Also has assisted in supplying laptops to children having to self-isolate in the early days of the outbreak to continue their education.

Ware – Community Corps – Rotary has helped coordinate 23 volunteers, all with different skills, from compliance to foreign language speakers, to form a Rotary Community Corps. So far the group has delivered newspapers and food, assisted with hospital transport and more. It has been a comforting safety net for local people in need.

Morriston – have created an online Zoom meeting place at 19.00 every evening for one hour inviting Rotarians and the local community to chat, share ideas, identify vulnerable people, signpost and just be a point of contact for those who feel lonely.

Aberystwyth – Made a donation of £795 to the Jubilee Storehouse Foodbank, with club members giving the money they would have otherwise spent on their mean at their regular club meeting.

Cheadle & District – Prior to the widespread closure of shops and restaurants, Rotary member Deborah Puttick collected and safely distributed fresh fruit to regular visitors to the club’s dementia café. The fruit would otherwise have been discarded by a local juice bar.

Mendip – Members of the Club are helping to answer the telephones for the newly formed Cheddar Valley Community hub. Formed by local business people to assist the vulnerable who are self-isolating to get vital supplies. Younger volunteers will then go to get the supplies.

Hamble Valley – Part of coordinated efforts in the area, alongside other community groups and religious organisations. They are sharing key messages about social distancing, registering people as vulnerable and promoting the NHS volunteer scheme.

Barry – £700 donation to Vale Foodbank

Blyth – It was an early start for Rotary volunteers in Blyth who helped transport food from a local supermarket to the nearby foodbank.

Nottingham – Seeking daily volunteers to support Sycamore Dining, a charity which makes affordable meals for those living independently. Daily deliveries of hot meals to elderly and vulnerable in the community are essential.

Thornbury – £500 donation to North Bristol Foodbank

Burford and Kingham – £622 donation to North Cotswold Foodbank

Sussex Vale – Made a £585 donation to local foodbanks and plan to continue donating food and funds throughout the coronavirus crisis.

Colchester – The club’s Easter Egg Raffle has taken place online this year, and the club has also donated a number of large eggs to the Rainbow Trust, which supports terminally ill children and their families.

Barnstable Link – Organising a ‘Children’s Art Challenge’ for pupils to take part in during the month of April while they’re unable to attend school. It’s a chance for children to get creative with any medium and be in with a chance of winning a prize!

Hounslow – Donating food parcels and groceries to the staff at West Middlesex Hospital, as well as supporting the local foodbanks and the Hounslow Open Kitchen which provides free meals to the needy 3 times a day.


To follow the Rotary Twitter thread listing community projects during the coronavirus outbreak.

Discover what else Rotary clubs have been doing recently to help communities during corona virus here and here.