Voluntary Action Swindon

Voluntary Action Swindon (VAS) has been given a grant from the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund.

The grant has enabled them to buy pre-paid store cards for its volunteer shoppers, who are working in partnership with Swindon Borough Council to make sure those over 70 told to shield at home by the government, self-isolating families and those who cannot get to a foodbank.

VAS CEO Pam Webb said people being shielded because of underlying health conditions are receiving food parcels but they still need help.

“The people who are being told to shield by the government are getting deliveries of food but they  are very basic and, for instance, don't include any options for those who are diabetic or those who are coeliac,” she said. “Bearing in mind these people are those with the most serious underlying health conditions, going through chemotherapy for instance, they are not being delivered any fresh food. Swindon Borough Council are getting lots of requests for top-up deliveries to give these people the things they need for dietary requirements or to give them the goodness they need.”

Council staff are working from a base at Lydiard Park assembling and delivering food parcels. “They have done a fantastic job,” said Mrs Webb.

VAS has bought 42 pre-paid cards for supermarkets in Swindon and will be visiting hundreds of families and individuals to get shopping for them.

Mrs Webb said: “Volunteers will be given prepaid store card and they will swap the shopping list with the customer and then deliver the shopping outside the door with a receipt. Then, if they can afford it, the customer will pay us back and we will top up the store cards.

“The council’s help team have been so busy dealing with people in crisis but now they are going through their data to come up with a list of people who need help. I think that list is going to grow if we stay in lockdown. So far council has a list of 1,500 vulnerable people all over Swindon with no family network.”

She said the council has built a web site for volunteers to upload their details and ID so that people can be reassured they are all accredited.

“The Wiltshire Community Foundation grant has been so helpful in allowing us to get these store cards and meet the immediate need that’s out there,” said Mrs Webb. 

Grant awarded: