The Bunwell and Carleton Rode Coronavirus Support Group - Update

The group was rapidly formed on 15 March as the novel coronavirus began to establish itself in the UK. Panic-buying had set in in some parts of the country and supermarket websites started to run out of delivery slots or crash completely. On 17 March the Government announced the first social distancing measures and it became clear that elderly and vulnerable people would require support. We put out a call on our Facebook group for volunteers and we were absolutely bowled-over by the number of offers of help from across Bunwell. We rapidly expanded to incorporate Carleton Rode and we initially split the villages into ten areas and appointed a ‘Co-ordinator’ local to each area to act as a contact.

The help our support network has provided most to date is in picking up groceries or prescriptions for people who are defined as ‘At risk’ by the Government, namely the over 70s and/or people with certain health conditions. Our volunteers mainly do this alongside their own grocery shopping or whilst collecting their own prescriptions. We also offer to provide a listening ear to villagers and we now have a dedicated phone number: 0333 050 9604. For the cost of a local call, please leave a message and one of us will call you back.

Following a suggestion that came in the Facebook group we liaised with Bunwell Parish Council with regards to expanding its pre-existing ‘Book Swap’ in Bunwell Hill’s phone box to The Turnpike phone box. Cllr Phil Gledhill built some shelving to house books, DVDs and CDs beneath the defibrillator. Phil also liaised with Rev John Madinda and Bunwell PCC to create another ‘Swap’ in the porch of Bunwell Church.

We continue to liaise with both Bunwell and Carleton Rode Parish Councils to augment our existing support and services as well as to expand them where necessary. We are mindful of not duplicating support which is already available or that is in the pipeline from other providers. To this end we work closely with South Norfolk Council’s ‘Help Hub’. Please keep an eye on the Facebook group or the Bunwell Community Website for up-to-date information. We welcome all offers of support or ideas.

Primarily: we thank you for all that you are doing. Our communities have come together at a time of adversity with unity, strength, resolve and compassion. We are not - unfortunately - out of the woods yet, but we can be justly proud of all that we have achieved together so far.

Thank you again. Stay safe!

Neil Collins, Lee Harper and Michael Crouch