The Volunteers of the Purleigh Village Shop
“The first lockdown saw us lose 70% of our team of VIP’s (volunteers in Purleigh). We had to shorten our opening hours by 40%. The number of customers we saw went from an average of 40 per day to 100+. It was a pressured time.
However we did have VIP’s who immediately stepped up and doubled their working hours, young people who came home from University stepped in, parish council members stepped forward, school children stepped in from age 10 through to teenagers (they were part of a crushing crew to break down all of our cardboard).
Some older team members were a little unsure on using the till, a few younger members didn’t always know the difference between Braeburn apples and Bramleys! This never mattered, everyone helped each other get through. We unpacked deliveries, swept the floor, worked for hours after the shop closed to refill the shelves, delivered food boxes, and there was always someone to make the tea😊. We were able to respond quickly to the needs of our community and launched a grocery box service which offered free delivery by volunteers to those isolating or shielding. This service was used by many local people both in our village and surrounding villages. Ordering was easy and over the phone and there was always a friendly volunteer to take orders or even sometimes just have a chat with people on their own during the strange times. Fortunately, the shop had established a local supply chain which ensured our shelves were never bare like the bigger supermarkets were at times.
So many Purleigh residents went on the ‘Let’s Help The Shop Help The Village’ list. Suddenly we had a new team of people to help us put together the food boxes, deliver them, help the locals who couldn’t get out to get services they needed. We had drivers from the village going out to collect our supplies. We also got a new, very valuable VIP with the help of Linda Dutaut at Maldon and District CVS.
The queue outside the shop was huge but what was so empowering / encouraging was that EVERYONE talked to each other.
Our community team have helped keep spirits up too by holding little events within the rules such as Pancake Race (just before lockdown) Easter Egg Hunt, village walk to see the NHS rainbows, Macmillan Take Away, Halloween Hunt & Take away. These events have included all the generations of the village.
We are very grateful to our many volunteers and also the organisations and individual shareholders that provided funding to allow our shop to exist in the first place. We have seen first hand the benefits a community owned and run business can have and the positive outcomes surpassed anything we could have imagined. The TEAM and the SHOP encompassed the whole village. And there wasn’t an ‘I’ in sight.”
Their Nomination: “Purleigh has had a village shop for years, but in 2018 the shop closed leaving the village without a local shop. An enthusiastic group of villagers formed Purleigh Community Shop as a community benefit society. The shop was ticking along nicely and then when Covid 19 struck, the team of volunteers swung into action. They installed Covid Secure measures in the shop, increased orders with local food producers and began a grocery delivery service, collected villagers medication and ran errands, connected people who needed things done in the home or garden and supported those who were isolated with a phone call and chat. All this hard work continues today – cometh the hour, cometh the team.”
Woodham Walter Village Lunch
The Village Lunch is an opportunity for those who may be socially isolated or on their own to get out and meet up with friends and neighbours for a good chat and a delicious lunch. Lockdown meant that we were unable to continue to bring together our regular group of approximately 20 villagers for this monthly lunch club. So we decided to take lunch to them!
Starting with a chatty phone call to confirm the lunch date and menu, the lunches are then prepared by Linda and Rob Hamilton of Gather & Feast Events, before being collected and delivered by Jacky, Cathy and Sally – all wearing suitable PPE and following social distancing guidance.
By introducing these changes, it has allowed us to keep in contact with our group, check on everyone’s well being and provide a nutritious and tasty meal to everyone. In fact we have been able to increase our numbers because we are now in touch with some people who are housebound and were not previously able to come to the lunches. We are currently delivering to over 30 people in and around Woodham Walter.
During lockdown, the lunches have been sponsored by different individuals and families in the village which is such a kind and generous gesture, and has meant that we do not have to deal with individual cash payments which would be problematic in the current situation.
Special mention should go to Linda and Rob Hamilton as without their amazing cooking we would not have a lunch to deliver. Linda sources all local ingredients and cooks the most delicious meals which are easy to then reheat. We include heating instructions and a note with each lunch, naming that months sponsor.
Being shortlisted for a Recognition of Service Award is fantastic recognition for the whole team (Jacky, Cathy, Sally, Linda & Rob) and reinforces what an important and deserving service our lunch provides for the village. It also generates a feel good factor not only to those of us running the lunch but also to all our villagers who receive our lunch and who are part of our close and friendly village community. A welcome slice of normality during a very strange time! Thank you.
Their Nomination: “With the pandemic the usual monthly Woodham Walter Village Lunch organised by volunteers for a group of elderly people had to stop. Local caterer GatherandFeast offered to supply a village lunch delivery service (on the usual first Monday of the month) to local guests and also to any other vulnerable or shielding residents.
Local volunteers phoned round and organised those who would like a meal and then the offers of sponsorship came in from several local residents so that there was no need to handle cash. 25+meals were delivered in May, June, July and August using appropriate packaging and following government guidelines at the doorstep. Recipients have been so grateful to the team.”
“Maldon and District CVS staff team are pleased to be nominated in the Team Working category of the Recognition of Service Awards. As part of the Community Response team we were only too happy to support the local community during the initial lockdown period. We had to set up new ways of working to provide the necessary support to those in need, often working beyond our usual hours. It means a lot to us that our contribution has been recognised. Thank you.”
Their Nomination: “The staff at Maldon and District CVS were completely redeployed in March 2020 to play a role in creating and delivering the community response to the coronavirus outbreak. Almost without exception each member of the team reshaped their working practice and roles to support the response team.
Between them the staff created the helpline, recruited the call handlers and manged the volunteer rotas, made upwards of 1200 safe and wellbeing calls, recruited and verified 350 volunteers developing handbooks, guidance and support, The team facilitated 4 meetings a week to ensure that communication between partners was constant, that partners were informed and able to feedback needs from the community.
This was all done with remarkable professionalism and good will, as the director of this service I am extremely proud of each member of staff individually and of the strong team working demonstrated both internally and with the wider response team”
Gill Luff & The Dengie Food Pantry
Brad Luff on behalf of Gill:
“Although the foodbank has run for the last six years, opening every Wednesday between 10 and 12, the events of this year has presented many challenges for us.
Not only has the way the food pantry, (foodbank), operates had to be changed to keep the volunteers and ‘clients’ safe but also the way in which we deal with donations and of course, the changing needs of those using the foodbank.
One of the positive effects of the Covid crisis has been the massive increase in donations which lead to members of the team having to attend up to 7 days per week to deal with them. Of course the other issue has been the increase in the numbers of clients wishing to use the foodbank because of reduced earnings or in some case, job loss.
Although Gill heads up the foodbank it is more of a co-operative of volunteers who meet outside of opening hours, to discuss how things are going and how the service can be improved but all with the same aims in mind, to serve the community and make sure no-one goes hungry and winning the award would be a great recognition of the hard work that goes on
Their Nomination: “Gill runs the Dengie Food Bank with her volunteer team (most are over 70 years old) – they have volunteered so many hours during the covid crisis ensuring all households in need across the Dengie have access to food, cleaning products and toiletries – they have even organised a home delivery service for those that are isolating or do not have transport.”
The Bell Public House
“During lock down through the summer, we were still able to get supplies from our wholesalersof fruit, vegetables, meat and some dry stores and pass these on to the community, also people would add to what we could offer via produce from their gardens and allotments which gave a good community spirt.”
Their Nomination: “Ann, Sean and the team from The Bell Pub, Woodham Walter, created a lifeline for villagers during lockdown by creating a pop-up grocery service.
The village is without a shop and with the pubs closed, they quickly realised that many residents were unable to obtain groceries or simply did not want to venture out but they were still able to procure supplies from their wholesalers. They set up a pre-order grocery service twice a week supplying produce of high quality for no profit.
Adapting their working areas and serving customers from the back door/car park with suitable social distancing and using contactless payments. The team also started making cakes, pies, sausage rolls and other delicacies to take away. Any profits were donated to the Air Ambulance.”