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Hundreds in West Norfolk offer help to those self-isolating as new support groups grow

Dozens of volunteer groups have launched in Norfolk to help isolated people during the coronavirus pandemic.

This week half a million people in England answered a call by the Government to become NHS volunteers, and there has been a wealth of community spirit in West Norfolk and beyond for weeks, where numerous Mutual Aid online groups have been set up to help those unable to leave home.

According to the BBC’s Shared Data Unit, within days of the first Facebook page launching in south London, a UK-wide network of organisations has now formed, some of which have thousands of members.

Coronavirus news
Coronavirus news

Users of the groups have described them as a vital boost with NHS services likely to be stretched in the coming weeks.

Many of the groups formed through a templated leaflet being delivered through letterboxes in a particular area.

Alex Coates set up the ‘Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group For Downham Market and Surrounding Villages’ on Facebook, which now has almost 500 members, and around 160 volunteers, including members of Arbuckles staff who are supporting their work.

Covid-19 help postcard (32438428)
Covid-19 help postcard (32438428)

Liz Pendleton, co-admin of the group, said they are “very busy”, having taken more than 40 calls in one day this week, and assisting people with requests such as shopping and collecting prescriptions.

They have now set up a GoFundMe page to allow people to pay for their shopping and support the volunteers who are incurring costs while helping.

Liz said an elderly man’s son, living in Brighton, was able to pay for his father’s shopping through the page.

They are now considering creating a ‘Chatters’ group to speak with those who are feeling lonely during self-isolation.

Jordan Stokes, 22, of Dersingham, set up the ‘Coronavirus mutual aid WEST NORFOLK’ group onFacebook almost two weeks ago, which has more than 1,000 members and more than 100 volunteers.

Jordan, who co-ordinates the group, said they are currently helping several people each day, with numbers now increasing.

“I set the group up knowing there would be a lot of people that would be needing it, and that’s on top of the people I already knew would be needing it,” he said.

“These groups are important because it’s ensuring that those who are stranded as such are able to get what they need, and so they are able to keep healthy.”

In our area, around 10 Mutual Aid groups have been set up on Facebook, offering a wide range of support, both on and offline:

  • Angels of King’s Lynn

- This group has a list of local businesses offering delivery and collection services in the area

  • Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group For Downham Market and Surrounding Villages

- Contact co-ordinators on 07943 682216 or via downhammarketmutualaid@gmail.com. Email for non-urgent requests and for those who are enquiring about volunteering

- GoFundMe page can be found at www.gofundme.com/supporting-downham-market

  • Covid-19 Mutual Support Group Fakenham Area
  • Massingham Self Isolating Help Group
  • Covid community support group-Reffley
  • North & South Wootton Coronavirus Support Group
  • Springwood KL Covid-19 Mutual Aid
  • Coronavirus mutual aid WEST NORFOLK

- Contact is co-ordinator Jordan Stokes on 07956 621177

And there is also a ‘Fakenham CoVid Mutual Aid’ group on WhatsApp, which can be found at https://chat.whatsapp.com/BUxlgP406v08VEmrtfkYUh.

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