The Comeytrowe (Galmington) Coronavirus Community Help group is one of 46 community help groups covering Taunton and surrounding areas. Taunton resident, Gabby Andrews, came up with the initial idea of setting up a Facebook group to provide a platform for Taunton residents to support each other during the pandemic.
This group grew rapidly and was then split into sub-groups to create localised support networks, bringing together those in need of help and those able to offer it.
We didn’t know at the outset how we were going to be impacted by the Coronavirus or what help people might need, however there was a real desire from residents to help others and so we were able to recruit volunteers and coordinate a leaflet drop to every home in Comeytrowe/Galmington in the first few weeks. As not everyone is on Facebook this provided details of a person they could contact for help.
Off the back of this there were so many kind words of thanks and stories about neighbours getting to know each other for the first time. It would be great if this sense of community continues long past the coronavirus.
In the following weeks, requests for help really picked up as more residents shielded. We gathered more volunteers and we were kindly offered the use of a central phone number set up by the Wilton and Sherford Group, providing our residents with one point of contact.
We now have 10 Call Handlers; local residents who take it in turns to cover the phoneline for 3-hour shifts. This was initially a 7-day a week service, but we have recently reduced this to 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and 9am-1pm Saturday due to the reduction in requests for help over the last few weeks.
Our call handlers take the details of help needed as well being there for a friendly chat or to signpost services. It has been great to see so many local companies responding to the pandemic and helping those in need, including Cullens Catering, who provided free roast dinners to some of our elderly residents.
We have a group of eight volunteers dedicated to collecting and delivering prescriptions. Over the past 8 weeks they have delivered over 170 prescriptions to residents that are shielding.
More recently, in conjunction with St Michael’s Church, we have re-started the Foodbank collection outside the Church and due to the huge amount of kind donations we have also been able to donate to Open Door, helping them provide hot meals to Taunton’s homeless community. Our dedicated group of volunteers collect donations daily, delivering to these charities. We have also donated a huge selection of puzzles, colouring supplies and knitting to Musgrove Hospital to help occupy the time of patients.
So many people have come forward to donate and help others, all in all this has been a truly humbling and inspiring experience.
As the lockdown rules ease over the coming weeks we will continue to work with the overarching Taunton group and also our neighbouring groups (Wilton/Sherford, Trull and Tangier/Parkfield) to support those that are shielding. We plan to keep our phoneline up and running until the end of June.
Comeytrowe (Galmington) Coronavirus Community Help Admin Team