Volunteers across Wanstead have been delivering leaflets to their neighbours, offering help and support during the uncertain times ahead. Charlie Renwick explains why she got involved. Pictured here is fellow volunteer Mei Moore (Charlie was self-isolating and unable to be photographed at the time of writing). Photo by Andy Nutter
By mid-March, I started to feel anxious about coronavirus; initially what it would mean for my family and me, but more importantly, what would happen to those older people who don’t have a support network in place.
I knew other people must be feeling the same way, so I turned to Facebook and within minutes found the Redbridge COVID-19 Mutual Aid group, an organisation set up by three others to connect us all at this time.
At the time of writing, the group has over 1,500 members and is growing daily. It offers clear information on Redbridge wards (areas within the borough) and recommendations on how we can all get involved in supporting our local community.
I live in Wanstead Village, where we now have a WhatsApp group with 135 members and counting. Our priority to date has been reaching out to the elderly and those considered to be at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus, to ensure everyone has someone to turn to if they need to self-isolate.
A leaflet template was created, volunteers selected their local streets and printed copies. Our aim was to post one through all letterboxes in the area so everyone has contact details for their local volunteers.
The response has been incredible, from people joining the group as volunteers to messages thanking us for reaching out to them. Another Wanstead volunteer shared a messaged she received from an elderly neighbour: “I just wanted to thank you and Tasha for your lovely offer in my letterbox today. I am 81 but fairly fit, and just now have all that I need. But it is so reassuring to know you are there. I am so grateful for your kindness.”
For me, this is what it’s all about, knowing everyone feels they have someone to turn to during these difficult times.
Our objective is to create a web of support for the village, whether that means a grocery shop, a prescription collection or a chat on the phone to brighten up a lonely day. No request is too small! I’m here, and so is our ever-growing volunteer network.
So, pick up the phone and let’s support each other.