As the uncertainty of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues, many of Bedford’s villages and communities are planning ahead, preparing to support vulnerable friends and neighbours.
Neighbourhood groups, residents’ associations and local businesses are coordinating responses to ensure that, should the situation escalate, they’ll be ready.
In Blunham, the Community C-19 Response Group has been set up by Julian Forbes-Laird, who told the Bedford Independent why he’s set it up.
“Blunham has a good community spirit and we’re lucky to still have a pub, village shop, chippy, school and churches,” said Julian.
“I could see the way things were progressing in Italy and it became obvious that some kind of community response seemed sensible. We know that locally, some people will need support.
“I set up the Community Response Group on Facebook and we have had a tremendous reaction. We now have 46 people who have registered to be part of the team, including lots of people with relevant skills and resources.”
The Blunham response group has created links with Bedfordshire Police, local NHS providers, local government, parish councils and schools in order to share accurate information.
“We are aware that a lot of older people aren’t on social media, so this weekend we’ll be delivering leaflets and putting signs up around the village,” said Julian.
“The local doctor’s surgery will also advise patients about the group so they can access help and support.”
Elstow, Bromham, Great Barford and the Prime Ministers area are hoping to set up similar groups.
“If other communities would like and advice or support to set up their own response group, we’d be more than happy to help,” said Julian.
If you would like to contact the Blunham team, they can emailed at email@example.com
Cllr Colleen Atkins of Harpur Ward shared the following general information from Neighbourhood Watch which groups and individuals may find useful:
1. Think of others, consider your actions & be kind: People in every community will face the challenges of Coronavirus in some way – from needing basic provisions to help while they are unwell.
2. Connect and reach out to your neighbours: as self-isolation increases, we need to find new ways to stay connected and check in on one another for our physical and mental wellbeing. Share phone numbers and stay in touch.
3. Make the most of local online groups: Keep up to date, share information and be a positive part of your local community conversations using platforms like Facebook and Nextdoor.
4. Support vulnerable or isolated people: different groups in our communities are at increased risk and social isolation and loneliness are key concerns for all ages. There are things you can do like volunteering for local support services or donating to food banks to help.
5. Share accurate information and advice: Support anyone who may be anxious about Covid-19. Signpost them to the correct advice from Public Health England and encourage people to follow the correct hygiene practices.