Community Blog 2

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Hi, and welcome to my second blog.

So, we need to talk about the “C” word, in this case I can honestly say that I wish it stood for “Christmas”. Who could possibly have anticipated the effects that this dreadful Coronavirus has had on all our lives… no corner or area has been left untouched, and still it goes on. I look to find some positives that we can share, the main one being that Thorpe St Andrew is a true community. Every day I am heart warmed to see so many offers of help and support across the town. It makes me very proud to be a Thorpe St Andrew resident.

As part of the Response Team from the Town Council, my first role was to bring forward our spring newsletter. Unfortunately, the lockdown meant the cancellation of St Georges Day celebration along with all our activities at the Roxley Hall. Thomas and I spent the week starting again on the “almost ready” existing newsletter! Fortunately, Mat Finch, our design planner was on hand to start again, and I managed to squeeze a slot with the printers as a rush job. The only part I could not do was delivery as our normal service was already booked up. That is where you all stepped in, our fantastic residents! The newsletters were collected on the afternoon of Friday the 20th of March, and thanks to Thomas, Cllr Sue Lawn, Cllr Jane Fisher and Mayor John Fisher they were sorted into routes and ready for the off the next day. So many of you offered your time to deliver for us. Some familiar faces including Father James, Jane Bagley from Broadland District Council, Thorpe History Group, Royal British Legion, and our Councillors and even some friends that don’t live in Thorpe!  Jason, our Parks & Estates Supervisor, took everyone’s temperature before we started, we donned our gloves and off we went. By the end of Saturday 21 March all 6500 (approx.) homes had received their newsletter, which was delivered by more than 70 volunteers. Many thanks to all of you that made this possible! The newsletter was full of useful information and guidance. It also gave you a list of food outlets- such as The Cottage that had started doing local deliveries. This list was not exhaustive and has since grown. The other main thing it gave you was a number to register your offer to volunteer to help others….

The number and website took you to Broadland District Council where I’m pleased to say lots of you signed up to be a Thorpe St Andrew volunteer. As I have a group of fantastic volunteers for Dementia Café, afternoon teas, and lunch club, I called on them for their continued support. At present we have 25+ volunteers plus all our councillors and office staff. Going through the official BDC site gives us the reassurance that we can safely offer a service to our residents. Rest assured that I am mindful of matching volunteers with residents, which I feel is important. All these residents are vulnerable and not just due to age. Unfortunately, there is always a scam on the go, and some unscrupulous characters that will take advantage of our residents.

Broadland District Council and other organisations (like Age UK) are sending me referrals as they get them through. Mostly these have been to collect shopping, or to put a plan into action to start shopping at a later date. So far we have helped numerous residents across the town. Alongside the shopping are pharmacy collections. I went to St Williams Way Pharmacy to collect the first request and found Louise (a very dedicated worker) struggling with deliveries. All her usual drivers were either sick or in self isolation. I’m pleased to report that within hours I had managed to get her 4 volunteer drivers plus 3 reserves!  What a result! Thank you. Some of these deliveries are taking most of the day, perhaps with over 20 drop offs and doing several miles covering adjoining villages. Luckily, the other pharmacies in the area are ok at the present time, but I have offered our services should they require them. I have also produced a small leaflet that can go out with the deliveries to remind residents that we are here to help them.

In between these referrals I am trying to stay in contact with my Dementia Café clients… it is even harder to stay at home when your loved one, or someone you are caring for cannot comprehend the stoppage of all your normal daily activities. How can you even try to explain this surreal situation to them?? And even if they understand, the nature of the illness means they will not recall the reasons as the day progresses. I have been sending them Norwich post cards, handmade cards, texts, and making phone calls- some of which have ended in tears. A few that can no longer be cared for at home are in isolation in care homes- making visits an impossibility. It’s a very difficult time….

But, we have to end on a positive note.. with fantastic supportive residents all looking out for each other we will get through these next weeks, whatever they bring. Thorpe St Andrew and Broadland District Council are working together, and now have plans afoot for the Roxley Hall to be used as a food hub/distribution point. So, we may well be looking for more volunteers. We hope all “splinter” groups will join us in caring for our community- together.