Amble support group delivers the goods
Co-ordinating a team of volunteers in the midst of a pandemic must seem like a full-time job at the best of times. But spare a thought for Rachel Cook, who works part time for the NHS, and yet for the last month, she’s also been running the Isolation Support in Amble and Surrounding Area group in her spare time. I ask her how she’s managing.
“I’m alright at the moment, but sometimes its hard when I’ve finished work and I come home and then I’ve got a load of emails and referrals etc. But I do it because it’s just in my nature, I know there are people out there who need help.”
Rachel was in the middle of changing her job when the lockdown began, but a previous job was as a care co-ordinator for Age UK, so she’s taking all this in her stride. Using a private What’sApp group helps the volunteers to pick up deliveries or requests as they come in. Most requests are for the Amble Food Bank, but the team will pick up prescriptions or check on vulnerable people who are self-isolating.
Nevertheless there’s sometimes a request from an unusual source; “I got a phone call from a care home in Bournemouth the other day, it turned out to be a lady with an elderly relative in Amble. She was worried he couldn’t pick up his medication. She had phoned the health centre who put her through to me, so we were able to help.”
The team consist of approximately 20 volunteers. They are all DBS checked, some even work in the NHS. They cover the Amble, Warkworth and Broomhill area, and some of Hadston. They are now getting referrals though social services, or by people just contacting them via phone or the Facebook group. “I do answer my phone as much as I can,” said Rachel, “but sometimes I’m working so I can’t always answer straight away. But I do get back to people as fast as I can.”
Rachel has PPE equipment and she says the team are ok for now. “But we have one lady who is making masks for us, and recently a sewing group was set up making bags for health workers to bring home their dirty kit. Everyone is so kind.”
“It’s been hard, and the virus is affecting everybody. Even my seven year old, so we don’t put the news on at home any more. Families are worrying about it. It’s affecting people in different ways. And it was stressful for us at first, but the team are working smoothly. We mostly pick up food parcels and prescriptions, but we’ve also been able to befriend and chat with people whose carers can’t always help.”
Rachel has also helped acquire a regular delivery of nappies from Proctor & Gamble for the Amble Food Bank. “It’s going to be the end of the month soon, and when people haven’t got a wage coming in, then things like nappies will be useful.”
I tell her she’s a really thoughtful and caring person. “I’m just me. I want to thank the whole team, they are all amazing in their own way. I’ll put out a request and someone picks it up straight away.”
If you have a coronavirus-related community need, you can contact Rachel Cook or the Isolation Support in Amble and Surrounding Area group via their Facebook page, or by ringing 07964 625284. If you’d like to help Amble Food Bank, they now have a JustGiving Page