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Coronavirus support service flooded with offers of help

Published: 27 March 2020

Coronavirus support service More than 250 people have called the new support service

A support service set up to help people in Exeter during the Coronavirus outbreak has been flooded with requests for help and offers of support.

In the first 36 hours since Exeter Community Wellbeing went live, a combined total of 250 requests for help and offers of support were received.

More than 100 volunteers have come forward to offer their services. These offers of support will be matched with some of the 150 or so people who have requested practical help in Exeter to deal with the outbreak.

Both the City’s top sports clubs have pitched in to aid the scheme, with Exeter Chiefs Community Foundation donating £100,000 to the COVID-19 grants fund and the Exeter City Football Club’s CITY Community Trust offering to get ‘stuck in’ and help in any way they can.

Exeter Community Wellbeing was launched on Wednesday to offer practical help and support to communities including those individuals who are self-isolating as a result of the virus. The scheme has been set up by Exeter City Council and Wellbeing Exeter.

As part of the scheme, a £1 million community action fund was launched by Exeter City Council and Exeter Chiefs Community Foundation to enable community groups and organisations to get rapid access to small grants to allow them to work on local projects to support those people and communities most affected by the pandemic.

Exeter Chiefs Community Foundation today (Friday 27 March) said it would be adding £100,000 to the action fund. The Club has also generously offered up its vans and drivers for any deliveries that need to be made.

Tony Rowe OBE, Chairman of the Exeter Chiefs Foundation, said: “None of us really know what is about to hit us over the coming days and weeks, but as trustees of the Foundation we felt we needed to play our part and offer as much support as we could to this new service.

“Exeter Chiefs considers itself very much at the heart of the community locally and this is our way of giving back to that same community who give so much to us in return during these very tough times.”

Jamie Vittles, chief executive of CITY Community Trust, said it made “complete sense” for his team to get involved.

The organisation, which is the partner charity of Exeter City Football Club, would normally be preparing for its Easter holiday clubs at this time of year, or delivering its huge variety of community activity for people of all ages.

“Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the delivery of our services, with the majority of the work we do at a standstill,” he said.

“Our team are prepared to get stuck in and help in any way they can, whether that is collecting prescriptions or delivering urgently needed supplies.

‘We take our place at the heart of the community in Exeter very seriously and will do whatever we can. It’s in our blood, it’s our ethos – it’s just what we do,” he added.

Council Leader Phil Bialyk said he was overwhelmed by the sea of support for the scheme and touched by the generosity of the city.

“I can’t thank people enough for their kindness and practical support. We live in such a great city and it’s at times like this that you appreciate that it is the people that make our city great – they are absolutely inspiring, fabulous!”

Most offers of support have come in the form of practical help with shopping and medication collection. Lots of volunteers have said they want to offer to call people to check that they are safe and well.

Jo Yelland, Exeter City Council Director, said teachers, nurses, health workers, security firms and other professionals had pledged their support to help.

“We’ve had a number of local groups who have set themselves up in response to the virus, contacting us asking if they can ‘donate’ their volunteers.

“Community Builders and local volunteering organisations have already matched residents with volunteers within 24 hours of the service opening, collecting prescriptions, delivering shopping and even clearing out gardens!

“Certainly we are seeing a fantastic response from our communities, pulling together when we need it most. I have thank everyone who has pledged their support and everyone – all the staff and volunteers who are making this work,” she added.

To get involved people need to go to the website where a simple online form can be completed. Those unable to go online can call 01392 265000 between the hours of 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 9am and 12 noon on Saturdays and Sundays.

Wellbeing Exeter is a partnership of voluntary and community sector organisations that offers social prescribing, in combination with asset-based community development to provide firm foundations to enable individuals and communities to improve and promote their own health and wellbeing in Exeter.

Wellbeing Exeter is funded by Exeter City Council, Devon County Council, the New Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, Exeter Primary Care Networks and Sport England.

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