A GROUP to co-ordinate coronavirus efforts in isolated villages in the borough’s south grew from three people to 80 in three weeks.
Harthill with Woodall Covid-19 Support is already a registered foodbank and organising volunteers in everything from pet supplies to quizzes.
The group, which also covers Thorpe Salvin, is even compiling a directory of local firms and sole traders willing to carry out emergency repairs for stricken residents.
Les Wheatley, one of the organisers, said: “The group we have set up has been a journey from three people having a chat about coronavirus to becoming a registered foodbank with a delivery operation and 80 volunteers inside three weeks.
“We have a long history of co-operation and mutual support within our respective villages.
“The majority, we hope, will just get through it without too much difficulty.
“However, we are aware that there are people in our communities who are vulnerable and isolated and will need additional help during this time.
“It is not intended to replace or hinder the excellent work that is being done by the NHS and mainstream services and we are aware that informal local groups are already emerging with friends helping friends and neighbours helping neighbours.
“Our support group is therefore a safety net to try to ensure that no-one slips through and suffers hardship.”
The aim is to help those with coronavirus, others instructed to self-isolate, key workers and people in financial hardship as a result of the crisis.
Cllrs Ian Lloyd and John Cox, chairmen of Harthill and Thorpe Salvin parish councils respectively, welcomed the efforts and offered support.
They said in a statement: “The way they have responded and turned an idea into a fully functioning organisation inside just a few weeks is remarkable.
“Parish councils work very well in normal times but the legal framework under which we have to operate makes responding quickly very difficult.
“The fact that three quarters of our parish councillors are over 70 and in self-isolation doesn’t help, but we are here to support with funding, contacts, and practical help.
“We are resilient communities but are sure to be tested in the coming weeks and months.
“The fact that this excellent team of volunteers are there supporting the frontline work is a great comfort.
“Volunteering has been the lifeblood of our parishes for many years but this spontaneous reaction to a crisis has been magnificent.”
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