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Hundreds of villagers have replicated the NHS Volunteer Responders initiative by joining together to support the most vulnerable in their Cotswold community.

After the coronavirus pandemic spread to the UK, Bromford customer Kirsty Derson decided to establish a Facebook group for residents in Blockley, near Moreton-in-Marsh, to share advice and guidance for anyone in the community who needed extra support. It quickly captured people’s imagination with around 300 people signing up and 50 of them pledging to become neighbourhood volunteers.

The 43-year-old then worked with the parish council to deliver flyers through the front-doors of villagers letting them know about the new coronavirus mutual aid group. The community has now rallied to support its most vulnerable, with regular check-in telephone calls, prescription runs, and shopping trips being undertaken by the small army of residents.

The online group is also being used to share advice on keeping children occupied during their break from school, sunflower growing competitions, and sharing other items or skills. Residents have also taken to ‘yarn bombing’ by hanging colourful knitted bunting up around the village to improve people’s mental wellbeing.

Remarkable

The mum-of-five, who moved to her Bromford home four years ago but has grown up in the local area, said: “I decided a few weeks back that whilst I knew quite a few of the mum’s in the village, we didn’t necessarily know many of the older residents so I created the page and asked a few friends to share it, and it has just really taken off.

“Our volunteers deliver essential items and undertake care calls and when we get a new request come in, I try and buddy them up with a volunteer local to them. I guess we did start doing this before the NHS scheme and it has just been amazing to see people come together at what is such a difficult time for so many.”

The sewing tutor added: “A few people have already said that once we overcome the coronavirus outbreak, they want to keep the group going so the aim is to keep the community goodwill flowing.”

Charlie Jackson, associate director of localities, said: “What Kirsty has inspired in her community in the space of a few short weeks is truly remarkable and heartwarming and shows the resilience and ingenuity that Bromford customers and their communities have.”

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