Community groups and volunteers across Somerset have been lending their time and expertise to the fight against Coronavirus by helping local NHS staff and health workers.
The groups have received a welcome boost to their work thanks to donations to the Somerset Coronavirus Appeal, which was set up by Somerset Community Foundation (SCF) in response to the current crisis.
Two of those community groups are voluntary group Taunton Scrubbers and social enterprise On Your Bike.
Susan McDonnell, the founder of voluntary group Taunton Scrubbers, said a £2,500 grant from the Somerset Coronavirus Appeal was helping to support local NHS staff and community health workers.
She said: “From something that started with just me, making sets of scrubs in my living room, we now have around 700 volunteers making up to 600 sets of scrubs a day. There’s an enormous demand from all types of community health workers, including Somerset NHS Trust, hospitals, GPs, care homes, and mental health units. We have around 1,000 volunteer members now: our youngest is six years old and our oldest is 91. I’d say we’ve made around 2,000 sets of scrubs so far.
“We’ve bought much-needed fabric with the money from the grant. The Somerset Coronavirus Appeal grant from Somerset Community Foundation has made an enormous difference – it’s been just fantastic.”
Roger Habgood, Chair at On Your Bike, explained how a £2,750 grant from the Somerset Coronavirus Appeal is helping local NHS staff to get to work safely: “We’ve created a new scheme offering NHS workers free bike hire and all the kit they need to stay safe; a helmet, lights, and high-vis jacket. The response from the public has been fantastic: we’ve had over 100 donated bikes in the last four weeks which we’ll be able to refurbish and give out to NHS workers.
“For the NHS workers, riding one of our bikes to work means they no longer have to rely on public transport. This is particularly important when they are working shifts when public transport may not be available.”
The Somerset Coronavirus Appeal has grown to over £615,000 since its launch on March 19.
The appeal is raising money to fund local charities and community organisations supporting those in most urgent need during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and donations have come from local individuals, charitable trusts and businesses.
Nearly £300,000 of grants have now been awarded to almost 130 groups across the county, including foodbanks and food delivery schemes, support services for older people, and virtual counselling, with more funding going out every week.
Grants of up to £10,000 are available for local charities, community organisations and volunteer groups helping those in most urgent need during the coronavirus outbreak, and SCF pledges to award funding within three working days. Any groups wishing to apply should visit the SCF website, where they can complete a short, simple application form: www.somersetcf.org.uk/coronavirus
SCF is encouraging local people, businesses, charitable trusts and organisations who feel able to donate to the Somerset Coronavirus Appeal by visiting the SCF website: www.somersetcf.org.uk/appeal or, if that isn’t possible, call 01749 344949.
To support the national NET appeal, please visit: www.nationalemergenciestrust.org.uk/coronavirus