Coronavirus: Volunteers rally round to help those self-isolating

By Johnny O'Shea
BBC News

  • Published
Josh St John JamesImage source, Josh St John James
Image caption,
Josh St John James, 17, has set up a group as he believes young people should be doing more

Volunteers are rallying round to help out those isolating themselves to prevent coronavirus spreading in their communities and around the country.

Groups in areas such as London and Cornwall are poised to get supplies to people unable to leave home in the coming weeks to contain Covid-19.

A 17-year-old boy who has set up a volunteer group in London said: "It's only right that we help out."

Public Health England (PHE) has advised people to self-isolate safely.

A major coronavirus epidemic is expected in the UK and PHE is working to contain the virus, which has resulted in six deaths and 382 confirmed cases.

The government has outlined emergency legislation to tackle the virus, including measures to allow people to leave their jobs and volunteer to care for those affected.

Image source, Camel CSA
Image caption,
Charlotte Barry has volunteered to help in her community

Josh St John James, 17 from Kingston in London, set up a group of young volunteers to offer support in any way.

The police cadet has been running Kingston Volunteer Taskforce as he believes young people should be offering to help.

He has been in contact with his local MP and health trust, and so far has four other local cadets willing to help out.

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"I read that someone of our age is more likely to win the lottery than die from coronavirus so it's only right that we help out. You never know when we might need help in the future," he said.

"I think lots of people are prepared to volunteer and hopefully our group will give them a place to focus."

About 50 people have added their names to a database set up by Volunteer Cornwall specifically to help out as more people self-isolate.

Image caption,
Andy Brelsford is compiling a database of coronavirus community volunteers in Cornwall

Andy Brelsford from the group said it also has an additional 50 people in emergency situations.

"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 had anything to drink.

"We want to make sure everybody has got somebody to keep them supplied."

PHE has advised people who are self-isolating to do what they can to avoid visitors to their home and has urged any deliveries of groceries, medications or other shopping to be left at the door.

Charlotte Barry, from Wadebridge, said: "I am an obvious person to get involved. I'm retired, time-rich, don't fall sick easily and am not in regular contact with anyone who is elderly or has underlying health conditions.

"We have a lot of elderly people in Cornwall. A lot of them have retired down here and so don't have the family backing that locals have.

"So these people are among the most vulnerable as they don't have anybody obvious to fall back on."

Some volunteers, including in Shropshire are helping health centres deliver medical supplies to patients.

The Bridgnorth Medical Centre said on social media "we have a small number of volunteers who can visit our most vulnerable patients/collect shopping etc, subject to availability".

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In Wiltshire, Susan Connolly is setting up a free food delivery service using volunteers setting out on foot from the Spar shops she runs in Tidworth and Pewsey.

Customers will be able to order from the 60-year-old family business over the phone.

She said the service means people know "we are here for you and they don't have to worry".

Image source, Susan Connolly
Image caption,
Shops in Wiltshire have set up a free delivery service for people who are staying at home

"It's definitely not a time to cash-in," she said. "We are a local service for local people, it's about being there and shouting 'hey we are here and we are here to help'.

"It's about being at the heart of the community really and pulling together to see what we can do."

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