During the coronavirus lockdown, many volunteer groups in Havant stepped up to support people with shopping and prescription deliveries for vulnerable people. However, an increasing number of calls were coming through the helpline with urgent requests for prescriptions that needed delivering that day. Some of the volunteer support groups were not able to react quickly enough to these and we didn’t want to put extra pressure on the smaller local groups. We also didn’t want to leave people without urgent prescriptions, so another solution was needed.
Community First had used our Volunteer Wessex website to ask for volunteers during the pandemic and we have been contacted by Solent Advanced Bikers, who are part of IAM RoadSmart Solent, the branch of the national road safety charity offering advanced motorcycle training in Hampshire, East Dorset, South Wiltshire, and West Sussex. With the club’s normal activities suspended during lockdown, members were keen find a way to help the community.
Community First Delivers was born. We already had a helpdesk set up, staffed by a range of Community First employees from nine to five, seven days a week. This took referrals coming from the Hampshire County Council HantsHelp4Vulnerable call centre via Havant Borough, East Hants District, and Winchester City Councils, as well as direct contacts from the public. Now we were able to extend our service to emergency prescription deliveries. Community First staff took the requests, logged them and contacted the bikers; the bikers picked up the prescriptions and delivered them, often within the hour.
The first delivery followed a referral from Havant Borough Council, for a man in Leigh Park who could not collect his prescription. He said, “I would like to thank the Community First Biker Volunteer who brought me my prescription today. I have been struggling to find people to help, and was in desperate need. Your volunteer’s help was amazing and was here within an hour of your call. Thank you so much”.
The club is pleased to be helping people via Community First during the current crisis. Solent Advanced Bikers Chairman Nigel Tailyour said, “We’ve enjoyed working with Community First – thoroughly organised and responsive, and we’re very happy to help.” Club member and Community First Delivers volunteer Simon Lamont said, “Communication from the Volunteer Service Staff has been great, and I’ve been enjoying doing this while the club can’t go out like normal. I hope we don’t have to keep doing this too long for the sake of the country, but I’m happy to keep doing it while I’m needed.”
Janet Duggan, Community First’s Business and Volunteering Engagement Manager, said “We have been absolutely humbled by the rapid and professional response from Solent Advanced Bikers, who have come forward during this crisis and made a real difference to people’s lives. The group’s response to the call to action has made a great impact for local shielded people and their wellbeing.”