The Socially Distant Blog Post
Writing this simply because I have some limited free time and thought I should update the blog.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working with Sam Hoy (and others) covering Wisbech and the surrounding villages (Leverington, Tydd St Giles, Elm, Friday Bridge and others) as volunteers with Fenland District Council. We are running errands, shopping and picking up medication for elderly and/or vulnerable individuals who have no other support and need urgent help during the Covid-19 Crisis.
Initially it was very hard work, as it was just Sam and I covering the entire Wisbech area on behalf of the FDC line. We managed to keep up, but it was a struggle on occasion as calls were literally flooding in. It was quite upsetting as some of these people were very frightened and in panic mode and some were absolutely desperate. The “normal” routes of care struggle when everybody is overwhelmed with fear and you lose huge swathes of your regular volunteers and carers to isolation and illness.
It was disappointing to see a local newspaper invent a completely false story and present a narrative that had little bearing on the truth. But I guess even in a pandemic a leopard doesn’t change its spots. It was also disappointing to see some opposition types looking to invent a story where one did not exist, but luckily that was quickly closed down by clear guidance from the very top in the virus response team at regional level.
Nevertheless, as the situation has progressed things have got better. More volunteers have come on board. The work done by other groups like 50 Backpacks and the Red Cross have been exceptional. County Council has been delivering emergency food packages to many vulnerable people too. All these different streams of help have been coming together and finding the best ways to support one another and work.
During all this i’ve had several jobs. As Portfolio holder for Communication at FDC i’ve been making sure lots of information is pushed out with regular press releases. I’m working directly with senior officers to do everything we can to make sure people have easy access to help when they need it and all the *accurate* information to help them. I’ve also been trying to encourage people to stay calm, The Covid 19 virus is a horrible one and it is certainly dangerous, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable People should follow Government guidance, stay safe and stay calm. Fear is also a killer, and this is obvious by what volunteers are seeing when they are out helping vulnerable people. Caution and care is vital, scaremongering is unhelpful. Getting the balance right is important.
Presently I am spending about 11 hours on most free days going back and forth to shops, chemists etc helping people who have no other support. All of this is done with maximum precautions for those who we are helping – 2m distance at all times. Hands washed before and after every visit. Following the most stringent protocols for every person we visit, exactly as instructed from those running the operations at the highest regional level. It’s a long day and its sad to see how utterly terrified some folks are. I wish there was more that we could do to help them.
Lots of other volunteers have joined the team now. We have FACT working in many areas and regular folks are also helping their own elderly and vulnerable neighbours. It’s a tough time, but I feel we will get through it working together.
I hope all my readers are well and safe. If you need help in Fenland call 01354 654321 for the Fenland Helpline. You are not alone.