Caring Milton Keynes community rallies round to ensure every resident will have what they need during coronavirus isolation
A citywide community support group to help potentially thousands of people in isolation due to coronavirus has been set up by two caring residents.
It involves 'street champions', area coordinators and hundreds of volunteers to run errands for those in need throughout most of MK.
Already huge batches of 'help needed' leaflets are being organised and they will be distributed for people to display in their window to alert the volunteers.
The idea started on a small scale to serve just a couple of estates, but has now mushroomed to cover almost the entire city.
It was the brainchild of Oxley Park resident Lucy Fox, who was worried about how vulnerable people or people with no family or friends nearby would cope practically with enforced isolation.
"There are so many people in Milton Keynes, particularly elderly people, who will be really stuck if they cannot get out to do shopping or get things they need," she said. "My intention is that when the UK goes into restricted access or full lockdown there isn’t anyone left struggling with the ‘dare I go shopping’ versus ‘I’m to at risk to go out' dilemma in MK."
Lucy started out organising a help system through an existing WhatsApp group but over the weekend it grew and grew, she said.
Another resident, Mike Cashman from Loughton, offered his help in the planning stage, and soon the pair were inundated with offers from people volunteering their services.
By today (Monday) they had a list of almost 20 estates and towns in MK where people have offered to be area coordinators and street champions.
A graphic designer has offered to design the leaflets and a local business has offered to get them printed. Others have volunteered to put them through doors in their area.
"I envisage that people will do a leaflet drop to every household in their estate so either the household can display the leaflet in their window when help is needed, or can call a phone number and it will be a coordinated person coming to help," said Lucy.
The areas covered so far include Oxley Park, Broughton and Brooklands, MK3 in Bletchley, Stony Stratford, Two Mile Ash, Loughton, Wolverton, Grange Farm, Coffee Hall, Oakridger, Medbourne, Tattenhoe, Emerson Valley, Shenley Brook End, Shenley Lodge, Peartree Bridge and Fairfields.
Lucy and Mike are now looking for volunteers on estates not named on the list. They also need someone from each area who is willing to have their name and contact phone number on the leaflet as the first point of contact for anyone needing help to phone.
The caller will then be matched with a helper, again a volunteer from the town or estate. To avoid cross contamination, they will, where possible, remain as helper for the same 'client' for the duration of the isolation.
The project is totally voluntary and non profit-making and payment and purchases will be left on people's doorsteps or in an agreed safe place.
The group has set up its own Facebook Page called Milton Keynes Coronavirus Community Support to coordinate offers for help. The link to the page is here
"The group was initially named Milton Keynes Covid-19 Mutual Aid but we decided the name was a bit scary," said Lucy.