More than 140 households in Maidenhead have been supported through the Covid-19 lockdown thanks to a Rotary initiative which mobilised 120 volunteers.
The Rotary Volunteer Response Project was the brainchild of Lisa Hunter from the Maidenhead Bridge Club and launched just before the country went into lockdown in March. The aim was to help vulnerable people in the community who were isolating because of the disease. Volunteers did vital tasks such as shopping, prescription collection, posting mail, dog walking or even just being there for a chat on the phone.
The project was supported by all of the town’s Rotary Clubs, and on Monday Lisa was guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Maidenhead’s latest Zoom meeting where she gave an update on progress.
Lisa reported that so far 850 errands had been run – taking up 950 volunteer hours. One of the most significant contributions of the project was the weekly provision of food parcels to 23 families whose children were missing out on free school meals due to schools being shut.
Developing contacts with other organisations and business had enabled the project to also provide 400 free Easter eggs along with games for children, and activities such as flapjack and pizza making kits. “Not only have we been providing food but also a little bit of joy, which is just as important,” said Lisa.
So successful was the initiative that it featured on a BBC TV programme hosted by Ross Kemp about the efforts of volunteers during the crisis, and Lisa played a video clip of the show during her talk.
Lisa said: “A massive thank you for all your support. To have the backing of every Rotary Club in Maidenhead meant the project could happen and it shows how well the clubs work together - particularly in a time of crisis - and that we can make our community a much better place to live.”
While many of the volunteers were Rotarians, others were members of the community who wanted to get involved. “People wanted to volunteer and we had a way for them to do that. I hope that some of the community spirit lasts after all this is over,” said Lisa.
The project is now starting to wind down as lockdown eases and normality slowly returns. But Lisa stressed no one would be left without support if they still needed it.
Club president Mary Spinks thanked Lisa for the update and said the project had been invaluable to the community and a great advert for what Rotary can achieve.