Over the past few months, the UK press has been inundated with heart-warming stories from the incredible work that good neighbours are doing up and down the country. Ross-on-Wye has risen to the occasion and proves what a strong and resourceful community it is with many individuals across the area quietly getting on with helping and supporting their neighbours in this difficult time.
We interviewed just a few of the volunteers from the Ross Good Neighbours Scheme to find out a little bit more about the people and roles behind the stats.
Volunteer: Sarah O’Neill
What is your volunteer role? Shift leader three times a week with the shopping team
Describe your usual volunteer day: From 8.45am until we finish just before midday, I run the shift team, making sure that the team knows what they are doing for each session eg I assign shopping lists to the packers, check in the stock arriving from the supermarkets and help to organise the dispatch of the orders to the drivers.
What did you do before this? Self-employed drama teacher – I teach in a school, a nursery and run my own drama classes in Ross for young people. I also run my own theatre performance youth group too as well as helping to run a weekly lunch group for the elderly – so I have spent much of my lockdown time helping and supporting our members.
How has the lockdown affected what you used to do? My job has completely stopped for now and I have not been furloughed. I have only been self-employed for 18 months so have been unable to claim any help at all.
Will you be going back to your original role? I hope so – as soon as I am allowed to as I love what I do. I am also having a think about what I might do in the future that still maintains some of the voluntary things I have taken on during lockdown as I really have enjoyed them.
Any particular moments that really touched you? I had the pleasure of telephoning all 150 of our customers a few weeks back to get some feedback and I was so touched by their positive comments and how much they appreciated what we did. The one-to-one personal feedback for our whole team was wonderful to hear and I valued talking to every single one of our customers. I actually discovered 30 new people who wanted a Phone Friend as a result of those calls and that is invaluable!
Tell us something about you: I can sing and perform! I like to run 6 km a day with my dog Benji if I can and I like to keep fit too. I also like wine and chocolate!
Tell us one thing that nobody knows about you: I attended The Sylvia Young Drama School as a child and I was once a child extra in a Coca Cola advert with Whitney Houston.
What have you missed the most during lockdown? Seeing my friends and going on dog walks in a small group plus lunches and coffees with friends.
What will be the first thing you’ll do when lockdown completely lifts? Get my hair cut, my eyebrows shaped and get my nails done!!