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A 19-week success story

by Michael Ford last modified 24 Jul, 2020 04:56 PM

Using a model of true collaborative leadership to transform lives in their community for 19 weeks, nearly 400 neighbours from across Devizes have made a real difference, bringing hope to those in need.

A 19-week success story

MP Danny Kruger and Wiltshire Councillor Laura Mayes at the DC19S call centre

The Devizes Covid-19 Support (DC19S) initiative set up in March and run by Churches Together in Devizes, Devizes Town Council, and Wiltshire Council, will come to an end on the 31st of this month.

The team has taken a staggering 5,639 calls, checking on the wellbeing of every person who called for help and delivering over 3,000 prescriptions and 2,000 shopping trips for people in Devizes self-isolating, or unable to make the trips themselves due to the pandemic.

Through the initiative, Devizes Dinners was started, and has provided over 800 free ready-made - and home-made - quality meals to many individuals and families who struggled during lockdown.

But as things begin to unlock, fewer calls are being received and with shielding currently due to finish at the end of the month, the team has decided this is the time to stop.

The co-ordinators now hope to build on the success of the town’s response to the pandemic by setting up Devizes Co, a new initiative to encourage and enable long-term community mutual aid and engagement in the town.

The Revd Dr Keith Brindle, Vicar at St James’ Church and one of the group co-ordinators reflected:

“We want to see people in our town flourish, and we believe this can be encouraged when people look out for one another, are neighbourly, kind and support and take mutual care of one another. In doing so we hope to build on the sense of community, connection and compassion that has been Devizes’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

And as the Devizes Covid-19 Support initiative comes to an end he said:

“I would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to all of the hard-working and dedicated people of our town who have supported one another during this pandemic, whether through the DC19S initiative or by looking out for neighbours. Thanks to those who stood in queues, shopped, picked up prescriptions, ran errands and made supportive phone calls.

“Thanks to the local supermarkets & pharmacies who’ve been generous, supportive and adaptable. Thanks to the local businesses and individuals who have given generously to help support the town, especially Wiltshire Community Foundation for their grant and a significant donation from Ball Aerocan. Thanks to the Town Council staff and the other coordinators who organised our day to day logistics and work so efficiently in the background.”

Donna Giddings, who was helped by the initiative said:

“They were a brilliant resource to me and my family during the last 4 months. I was working 50 hours a week for the NHS in the first 6 weeks of the pandemic. I had a mother-in-law and husband both shielding at home with me in Bromham and then my dad and his wife shielding in Devizes. He had been in hospital with pneumonia the previous November and already danced with death, so I needed to do everything in my power to ensure they stayed safe.

“I spent my limited days off shopping and running errands for everyone. I spent hours queuing for medication for everyone at the different chemists, then a nurse friend told me about DC19S. What heroes! They saved me hours of precious time by collecting medication for my dad. He would order his medication from the surgery and the DC19S group would then collect and deliver his medication. This saved me hours each week, which meant I could do my NHS job. You will never know how grateful we are. Thank you so much.”

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