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In just two weeks Kintyre Community Resilience Group (KCRG) has registered more than 80 volunteers and has received countless offers of help from local businesses as it works tirelessly to minimise the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the area.
Volunteers have offered to shop, drive, deliver, call or do whatever is needed of them while businesses large and small have provided vehicles and drivers as the country remains on lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Eric Spence, manager of South Kintyre Development Trust (SKDT) and KCRG’s local area coordinator told the Courier: ‘The majority of the smaller localities and villages around us have already formed their own groups and are supporting the vulnerable in their local communities. We will continue to offer these groups the assistance of our volunteers where required.
‘We are aware that there are many, many more people who are not registered as volunteers but who are already looking after and checking on the older or vulnerable members of their family, as well as friends and neighbours. That is really heartening to see and should remind us all of how lucky we are to live in such a tight-knit, supportive community.’
KCRG has broken Kintyre into smaller, more manageable chunks with each ‘neighbourhood’ having a nominated coordinator as well as a back-up. All enquiries and requests received by the group are sorted and then sent to the volunteer coordinator who can call on the bank of volunteers to allocate specific tasks to them.
SKDT has allowed the use of Campbeltown Town Hall which has been set up as headquarters in readiness for the coming weeks. It can be used as a preparation and packing station for shopping and a central point for volunteers for drop-off, pick-up and distribution purposes.
The group has been offered a grant of £1,000 from Laggan Community Council to help with upfront shopping costs and volunteer expenses for which the volunteers express their gratitude.
Eric said: ‘Small charities like Shopper-Aide are doing a fantastic job providing their services to older people, however they are already at capacity and will need the support of volunteers to continue their excellent work.
‘We are, however, acutely aware that many of the people we will need to support now are normally totally self-sufficient and would not need these services in normal times.’
Eric explained that there are about 700 people in Campbeltown alone who fit the government criteria for shielding – a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction they have with others.
‘It is a huge task to keep these people safe and supported in their homes,’ he said, ‘so we have been busy organising and preparing our volunteers and putting systems in place to ensure that nobody is missed out.
‘For this reason we would ask the good citizens of the area to continue to look after your neighbours and only use this service if you really need to. That way we can ensure that we focus our energies on those who need it most.’
Anyone needing assistance should call Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership’s newly launched Caring for People helpline on 01546 605524. Appropriate requests will be referred to KCRG and volunteers will then make contact directly.
KCRG is also rolling out the ‘green thumb scheme’ which will allow those who need assistance to alert their neighbours.