In this fabulous blog written by a citizen of Southwick in Wiltshire, we hear how with the support and encouragement of people including Local Area Coordinator Gemma Novis, she was able to galvanise the energy of her neighbours ensuring no one had to go through this crisis alone.
My normal life consists of living in Southwick, being single mum to a teen in college and charity shop manager in Shepton Mallet.
A week after lockdown I received a message from a friend telling me that someone we knew four years ago, had committed suicide. It broke my heart to think she was so isolated under lockdown and couldn’t reach out to anyone. Twenty-four hours later I decided Southwick wasn’t going to have any casualties, not if I could help it. I decided to coordinate a group of local volunteers to reach out.
Where did I start?
I called our Local Area Coordinator, Gemma Novis and Wendy Jones, the North Bradley group coordinator for advice (their group is running like clockwork!). I also contacted our local parish council Chair Councillor Katherine Noble, who offered her support with printing extra flyers and a wealth of information about local residents.
I needed help posting flyers! I’ve steel plates in one leg and doing a 1000 houses and farms alone was an impossible task. Within an hour of posting a request on Facebook (Southwick Historical group), I had five volunteers.
Within thirty-four hours of making the decision I’d registered the group on several sites, had delivered flyers to the entire village and set up a WhatsApp group for the 10 volunteers I’d already accumulated. I also set up a Facebook page. I received so many texts and calls appreciating what we are doing in the neighbourhood, one lady was in tears.
We’re a brilliant team.
How has having access to Local Area Coordinator helped?
Our Local Area Coordinator has been there from the first phone call when I enquired if there was a group in my village. Reaching out to them is very quick and easy, with as much or as little help as you need to achieve your goals (in my case setting this group up!). The reason we’re taking action now is so that our neighbours aren’t alone, it’s reassuring to know we’re not alone either. Support from a Local Area Coordinator is ongoing not just for the initial set up, and we keep in close contact via text, emails, social media and phone calls.
A message for others thinking about deciding to help their neighbours too…
Not everyone has social media and I cannot stress enough the importance of setting up your own local group on your own estate or just your own road. There are some very lonely, scared and vulnerable people out there and they need to know that they’re not alone. Many of us are furloughed from work, and I guarantee within a month many of us will be climbing the walls for something to do. I know that this small action can potentially save lives. Please, please help put back the neighbourly into neighbour. Our Southwick Parish Covid19 Support (near Trowbridge, Wiltshire) group can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Southwick-Parish-Covid19-Support-103583071307842/
For more information about establishing Local Area Coordination as part of the response, recovery and reform efforts where you are please email email@example.com