Coronavirus: Ottery community volunteer network doing ‘incredible’ jobs

Ottery St Mary. Ref sho 29 19TI 7744. Picture: Terry Ife

Ottery St Mary. Ref sho 29 19TI 7744. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Dozens of people who ‘have never done anything like this before’ are helping the Ottery St Mary community cope with the coronavirus crisis.

A network of volunteers was set up when the lockdown began, to make sure that people forced into self-isolation could have food and medical supplies delivered to their homes.

They are also helping local traders to survive.

Dean Stewart, an Ottery town councillor and chair of the Ottery Business Forum, is a spokesman for the network.

He said: “Part of our volunteer effort is supporting businesses by promoting those that are closed to customers but still doing deliveries, and the traders that are providing a takeaway service, for example.

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“It’s also helpful for us to keep track of how our food is arriving in the town and looking at supply networks.

“As the crisis goes on, I think some shops may start to combine supply chains and look at working more closely together.

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“We hope that one of the most positive changes after lockdown might be a bigger voice and bigger contribution from the ‘Ottery Women’ - we have dozens of people who have never done anything like this before who have come forward, taken roles with responsibility and really done incredible jobs. I hope we find a role for them.

“Post lockdown, we need think about how we support businesses to secure their joint future - and the town council and others need to get involved in making sure we work on tourism, history, culture, offers and attractions to encourage tourists into town and spending their cash.”

Around 400 people signed up to join the volunteer network in mid-March.

It was set up by Ottery Town Council, the Coleridge Medical Centre and Ottery Help, and has been working in groups, each focusing on a section of the town comprising around 100 homes.

They have been contacting the most vulnerable residents, and those in most need of help, by emailing and distributing leaflets.

All volunteers carry photo ID and have been registered with the police.

Anyone needing assistance is asked to contact help@online.ottery or call 01404 600013.

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