The Ross Good Neighbours (RGN) scheme has reached two major milestones this week, proving just how valuable the team’s work has been in the community over the last few months. The dedicated Message Line, which was set up to offer a lifeline to those vulnerable, in need of advice or help, has received its 1000th call from the community. Meanwhile, the Pharmacy Team, working tirelessly to ensure medication reaches isolated households, has now delivered an incredible 2,000 prescriptions.
The RGN scheme was originally set up in 2019 as the first project of the Ross Community Development Trust, and led by Ross Town Council’s previous mayor, Jane Roberts. Its aim was, and remains, to provide support to those in the community who were lonely or need assistance with daily chores. Since the start of the Covid-19 isolation lockdown this quickly evolved to provide for example, shopping, pet care, admin or to support anyone who simply needed a friendly chat on the phone. The volunteer services have become an invaluable part of many people’s lives.
Melvin Reynolds, who leads the Message Line team commented: “We are really pleased that so many residents in and around Ross have made use of the Ross Good Neighbours Message Line. We weren’t sure how it would be received initially, or whether there was a demand for it, but we have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have contacted us”.
Volunteer Lindy Wildsmith added: “The message line is specifically for the over seventies, the vulnerable, those who are self-isolating or shielding and who do not have access to the internet or friends and family who can help them out. We have received a wide range of queries over the past months but we always phone people back to find out what they need. Sometimes we fill out a shopping list which we then pass on to the RGN shopping team. Sometimes there are requests from family members living away, worrying about their loved ones, or a person concerned for a neighbour living alone and needing help of some kind. People have all kinds of requests and if we cannot help, we point them in the right direction.“
Meanwhile, the Pharmacy Delivery team – a partnership between Ross-on-Wye Community Development Trust and Ross-on-Wye’s Rotary and Lions Clubs – has now delivered an incredible 2,000 prescriptions to people in Covid-19 isolation in and around Ross. The team of 19 volunteers is now taking a break from carrying out prescription deliveries as many patients are now able to collect their own from the pharmacies. Patients who still need deliveries will continue to receive them from the pharmacy’s own delivery services and should not notice any difference. The team remains on standby and will be available for further support if the need arises.
Andy Inkpen of Ross Rotary Club and Keith Wilding of Ross Lions Club commented: “At the start of lockdown, we knew there was a demand for the medication delivery service and were delighted to be able to help. We have been collecting prescriptions from the three Ross pharmacies and delivering to vulnerable and self-isolating residents in and around Ross since 27 March. It has been an extremely rewarding experience for everyone – including those who were drafted in from the RGN volunteers. Now that the lockdown restrictions are easing, the demand has dropped considerably so we are pulling back from deliveries – however that’s not to say we aren’t ready to react if the service is needed in the future.”
The Ross Good Neighbours scheme continues to build on its reputation, supporting people who are lonely, isolated and in need of help with daily tasks. Whilst lockdown restrictions ease off, the RGN team will be focusing on establishing its next phase of community support. The ‘Neighbourhood Buddies’ scheme – which will involve teams of volunteers dedicated to looking after needy or vulnerable residents within a specific area of their neighbourhood – is starting to take shape with further details to be announced in the near future.
In the meantime, anyone requiring support should contact the Ross Good Neighbours by calling the dedicated Message Line on 01763 802046 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.