Wilton HELP

A grant has helped Wilton HELP and its 118 volunteers deliver shopping, collect prescriptions, run errands and provide comfort and reassurance over the phone.

The group was initially a handful of volunteers but as the crisis deepened and the calls for assistance increased, it forged a partnership with Wilton Town Council.

Clerk Steve Milton said: “They had been taking calls on their own phones, which wasn’t really ideal, so we subscribed to a call centre software package to handle calls from residents. Part of the Wiltshire Community Foundation grant has enabled us to extend the subscription and that has been a real relief.

“We sent out leaflets to advertise the new service and increased the number of volunteers. We’ve now got 101 registered volunteers and 118 in total working with us. Since we launched on March 30, we’ve logged 1,011 calls, which led to 955 completed tasks. Of those, 524 were delivery of prescriptions, 309 were for shopping trips and 97 were running errands, such as returning library books or posting letters. We also have 21 people registered for regular reassurance calls.”

The group has been working alongside Wiltshire Council, local GPs and the chemist, Lloyds. Mr Milton said: “We’ve got a batch system for collecting and delivering meds and it has been a Godsend for the chemist as they had huge queues.

“The funding is going to be great because we’ve started to use PPE in a limited way when we are delivering shopping to people who are showing symptoms or have disabilities. The funding will enable us to make sure all of our volunteers are fully protected and that will keep everybody safe, not just our volunteers but the people they are visiting.”

“Our volunteers have been incredible but so have the public as well. I had one lady ring up who has been having her shopping delivered to say she had ordered extra  to give to people who needed it. Because she has been isolating herself, she felt dreadful she couldn’t help. When we went to collect the order there were 12 bags of food. It was just such a lovely act of kindness.

“There was a lady on the phone who was quite distressed and the volunteer who spoke to her, completely off her own bat, went a bought her a bouquet of flowers and took them round, the lady was in tears.”

“We’ve had two volunteers who have both done over 100 tasks, one has done 215 tasks on his own. There are many more who have done multiple, multiple jobs. Our call handlers have been so busy. We have four handlers who have taken over 100 calls, it has been an amazing effort for a small town.

“The commitment from the volunteers has been superb. It is hard to imagine how some of the people we have been working with would have coped without it.”

Grant awarded: