Wow, what a year!
In March 2020, I signed up to Cheshire East’s voluntary 'People helping People' (PHP) scheme and was assigned to ‘queue busting at the Church View Pharmacy where the queue for pills was almost as long as the queues for toilet paper in the supermarkets.
As time went on and the queues lessened, some volunteers returned to work and others were re-assigned. By then the Nantwich PHP team had been renamed Nantwich Buddies and our amazing organiser, Liz Parkin found a whole variety of new roles for us to undertake: supermarket shopping, collection and delivery of medicines, driving clients for their jabs.
Dozens of Buddies help at the weekly Civic Hall Vaccination Hub and dozens more worked for two weeks at Reaseheath College Testing Centre when the students returned in March. That project saw 7,500 Covid tests carried out (all negative!) and the students now self-test.
I made a special phone call yesterday. It was exactly a year since my first ever shopping expedition for a Buddy Client, a lady who had been instructed to shield at home during lockdown. For a few months, we exchanged news, thoughts, shopping lists and shopping bags on her doorstep, so it was very easy to chat on the phone for half an hour. She is able to do her own shopping now but we keep in touch and she knows how to contact me if things change.
Buddy clients come in all shapes and sizes and it’s been a privilege to meet and get to know the eight households I have worked with at various times over the last year. It wasn’t all a one-way arrangement either; knowing I was going out to see people and enable them to manage was energising and rewarding (and my husband was delighted to be left in peace on a regular basis…).
Cheshire East and the Nantwich Buddies co-ordinators have provided free training and workshops on a number of topics that are of particular help when working with some of our Clients and I have attended online sessions on Dementia Care, Scam Awareness, and Safeguarding Vulnerable Clients. All useful as we go forward into the next year.
We don’t know what lies ahead but Nantwich Buddies can look back with pride on our achievements in our first year.
Charlotte Lightbody - Nantwich Buddie
Charlotte with one of the awards Nantwich Buddies have picked up since forming during the first lockdown, Volunteer of the Year from the Cheshire East Adults and Children's Safeguarding and Dignity Awards