“If everyone does a hundred metre sprint, between us we will cover miles,” that is the rally cry to help at-risk residents in Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton and the neighbouring villages amid the coronavirus crisis.
Community champions are calling for volunteers to do their bit for their elderly and vulnerable neighbours who face long periods indoors.
Cllr Richard Scott, Devon County Councillor for Exmouth, has urged people to ‘think local and small’ when offering help.
He has joined Exmouth Town Council in appealing for community support as the virus spreads.
Ways to help include donations of food to Exmouth Community Larder, offering support to those in isolation and keeping loneliness at bay by staying in touch from afar with people, by phone or online.
Cllr Scott said: “I am saying keep it to your street so people don’t overwhelm themselves. Think local and small.
“If everyone does a hundred-metre sprint, we will cover miles between us.
“If everybody does that, there will be plenty of volunteers everywhere.
“Don’t try and be a hero. You have still got to look after yourself and your family.
“I have spoken to my elderly neighbours and left them my contact details so if they don’t want to leave the house, I can pick up their prescriptions or shopping.
“We need residents to be volunteers and help their neighbours.
“There are a lot of good things going on. I am extremely proud of a lot of people.”
Cllr Steve Gazzard, Exmouth mayor, said: “It can be very isolating for individuals if they’re staying away from the places they normally go.
“This can, in some cases, lead to mental health issues.
“The community can help simply by offering to talk to those in isolation and providing them with the latest information.”
Exmouth Town Council said help could come in the form of foodbank donations to Exmouth Community Larder.
As the virus spreads the service could face additional pressures, the town council said.
Other ways of supporting people through the pandemic could come in the form of collecting prescriptions and groceries.
Or offering other help and reassurance to elderly neighbours, or those classed as high-risk from coronavirus – such as keeping in touch from afar with those in isolation, by phone or online.
Exmouth Town Council said it was aware that community efforts were growing.
Groups, individuals or organisations keen to help, but who are unsure how to proceed, are urged to visit the local Mutual Aid group, set up to bring together volunteers to support those in need in Exmouth during the Covid-19 crisis. See more here.
The local branch of the national Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK group gives expert guidance on how to provide well-coordinated assistance without contributing to the spread of the virus. Find out how you can get involved here.