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There has been an extraordinary community response in Melksham to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As people stayed at home to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, local volunteers leapt into action to support vulnerable residents across Melksham.
The community has rallied around like never before by going the extra mile and helping those in need.
There have been countless heart-warming cases of people helping their neighbours, businesses helping those on the front line and those isolating at home and people giving to those in need or organising online fund-raising events to support local charities and organisations.
At the heart of the community effort has been the Melksham Community Response team, set up within days of the government’s Covid-19 lockdown which, with the help of over 400 volunteers, has delivered support to hundreds of vulnerable and isolated residents.
Volunteers have helped with weekly shopping, picked up prescriptions, and provided company over the phone via a ‘friendly phone’ calls service.
The Melksham Community Response has received wide-spread praise, and has been hailed as ‘one of the most effective’ community responses to the Covid-19 pandemic in Wiltshire. It is a joint project being run and funded by the Melksham Area Board, Melksham Town Council, Melksham Without Parish Council and Age Friendly Melksham.
Organisers of Melksham Community Response say, “Lockdown began on 23rd March; our first help was provided on 27th March. Credit must be given to councillor Jon Hubbard for setting up the technology to enable the scheme to be up and running so quickly.
“The aim has been to provide a co-ordinated response to make sure that those who need support receive it at the appropriate time. Care is taken to maximise the effectiveness of the group’s volunteers, whilst at the same time ensuring our most vulnerable and isolated residents are safe.
“In the first week, 181 volunteers signed up to help and 184 phone calls had been received from people in the community. At the last count, 445 volunteers had signed up to help and 1,919 phone calls had been answered by our friendly team!
“Over 20,000 leaflets explaining the wide range of services offered by the project were delivered to all houses in the area.”
Chair of Melksham Without Parish Council, cllr Richard Wood said, “I am genuinely delighted at the way the four organisations have all pulled together. Moving forward, it will be great to have a positive legacy from the Covid-19 situation, with support in place after the virus has gone, for the most vulnerable residents in the greater Melksham area.”
Jon Hubbard, chair of Melksham Age Friendly said, “It’s been humbling to be involved with organising the Melksham Community Response and seeing the phenomenal response of people in our community who have done so much over the past three months. We have always had an amazing community spirit in Melksham and the town and surrounding villages have, once again, shown why this is such a wonderful area to live in.”
Chairman of Melksham Area Board at Wiltshire Council, cllr Jonathon Seed said, “Melksham Community Response Group has proved to be one of the (if not THE) most effective Covid community response organisations in Wiltshire.
“It has been so hugely successful because it is the only response group in the county that covers the whole of its community area.
“It was formed as the brainchild of cllr Jon Hubbard who galvanised the support and funding from Melksham Area Board, Melksham Town Council, Melksham Without Parish Council and other parish councils. However the real success of the group has been the respect and trust that it has gained from everyone in the community area and especially its tackling of social isolation during the national pandemic.”
Leader of Melksham Town Council, cllr Vanessa Fiorelli said, “The Melksham community has always had a proud history of supporting each other when in need. The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenge to many communities, however here in Melksham, our wonderful residents have led the way in displaying what community really means.
“Even prior to official lockdown, there were offers of help for the vulnerable flooding in. Melksham Town Council and Melksham Without Parish Council recognised a need to respond quickly to support our residents and act as a safe way for people to volunteer their help.
“Our wonderful volunteers have delivered prescriptions, gone grocery shopping, walked the dogs and helped in many other ways. We have taken calls from people all over the country who are concerned about vulnerable relatives they have in Melksham.
“Through the Community Response hub we have been able to check on loved ones, help make doctors’ appointments and even refer residents for further help from Wiltshire Council.
“I am immensely proud of our community and the generosity that has been shown, it just goes to show what can be achieved when we all come together. We will continue to support our community and are now investigating ways of being able to continue the Melksham Community Response into the future and expand on the support it delivers to our community.”
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