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TO mark the anniversary of the first national lockdown on 23rd March, Melksham Community Support paid tribute to the team behind the service and its 504 volunteers.
Over the past 12 months, the service and its “incredible” volunteers have helped carry out 5,284 tasks, ranging from grocery shopping, prescription deliveries, dog walking, and friendly phone calls to residents living alone.
“It’s been a remarkable year and so much has been achieved by the Melksham community pulling together in incredibly difficult circumstances to help those most in need,” said chair of Age Friendly Melksham – which now manages the service – Jon Hubbard.
“In March 2020 none of us had any idea of what lay ahead but we knew we had to do something. People isolated in their homes with no support network to rely on were really struggling to manage.
“In the early days it only happened because of the amazing support of the clerks at Melksham Town Council and Melksham Without Parish Council. Working together they put the emergency plan into action and, working with the Area Board and the Age Friendly team set up Melksham Community Support.
“Huge thanks go to the frankly fantastic staff teams from the two councils who adapted and changed and learnt the new database system for Melksham Community Support on the job in the first few weeks and made sure it all happened. Also, to the Area Board who, without hesitation, put in funding to help us get the project up and running.
“An incredible team of volunteers answered our call for help and we recorded everything they did for people calling our helpline for support. Our figures for the year to 21 March 2021 show just how much support was needed and we want to celebrate the hard work and dedication of every one of our volunteers, many of whom put themselves at risk to help others.”
Phillipa Huxtable, Age Friendly co-ordinator said, “When I joined Age Friendly in September last year, I was amazed to hear that systems had been set up so quickly and the team of call handlers trained in such a short time. It was a remarkable achievement.
“Our small team have answered the phone 4,321 times over the year and have allocated 5,284 tasks to volunteers.”
Looking to the future Phillipa said, “Melksham Community Response has had a huge impact and leaves an important legacy. The last year has highlighted a significant number of isolated and lonely people in the community who have always been there and will need ongoing support from us and others.
“We look forward to more successful collaborations that will help make Melksham an Age Friendly place to live.”
Melksham Community Support phone lines are available 24/7; you can leave a message on 01225 809265 and the team will call you back.
You can also request support or volunteer to help by visiting: www.melkshamcommunity.co.uk