Funding boost for community lifeline

Ottery Community Larder

Ottery Community Larder has been a lifeline for the town - Credit: Archant

Ottery Community Volunteers have received a vital cash injection from the Covid-19 Fund for the vital work they do supporting people in need.

The group, which was set up by the community for the community when the first coronavirus lockdown was imposed, has been awarded £700 from a grants scheme run by East Devon District Council and Devon County Council.

The money will help pay for office administration.

Ottery Community Volunteers was set up in March last year, with around 400 residents signing up to help people in the town hard hit by the pandemic. Now, almost a year later, it is a thriving, not for profit organisation with a mission that is likely to continue long after the virus has been brought under control.

It has been buying, collecting and delivering prescriptions for people during lockdown, shopping for essential supplies, delivered to homes for those self-isolating and vulnerable, and it has been supporting Ottery Foodbank and now runs a community larder, open between 11am and 2pm every weekday, to support those in greatest need.

Town councillor Stewart Lucas, one of the group’s directors, welcomed the grant aid and explained how the organisation had evolved from being an emergency response to the coronavirus crisis to a community support network which is likely to be around for a long time to come.

Cllr Lucas said: “We are finding that the problems we are dealing with now existed before the Covid crisis. Covid highlighted those problems, exacerbated them and brought them into sharper focus. But when Covid is brought under control these problems won’t be going away.”

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He said the work that the community volunteers were now doing would not be a “short term effort”. They were now doing what they could “to achieve a sustainable service”.

He added: “A lot of people’s lives have been affected in a positive way by the work of the Ottery Community Volunteers. We take a non-judgmental, non-means tested approach. Many of the people we are helping are anxious that this support network will be lost and fear they will be forced back into a toxic situation. We don’t plan to let that happen.”

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