Borderers volunteers help those in isolation as 57 resilient teams spring into action across region

Hundreds of volunteers across the Borders have stepped up to help the most vulnerable people in their home towns and villages during the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, 27th April 2020, 5:25 pm
Ken Owens volunteers with the resilience group for the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys.
Ken Owens volunteers with the resilience group for the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys.

A total of 57 teams are working under Scottish Borders Council’s resilient communities groups and with community assistance hubs to provide food and medication deliveries to those shielding or self-isolating across the Borders.

In Jedburgh, more than 70 volunteers came forward in just one week and are now working across five zones providing deliveries of shopping, prescriptions and protective equipment as well as a dog walking service across five zones in the town. The group has seen increase in demand of over 60% in one month.

Jedburgh coordinator Georgiana Craster said: “We hope to provide support seven days-a-week and are grateful to the fantastic group of volunteers who and working with us so that we can all get through this together.”

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Volunteers Barbara Harrison, Linda Jackson and Miranda Alcock at Kirkhope Hall.

Vulnerable residents, including those self-isolating because of virus symptoms, people over 70 and those advised to stay indoors because of existing health conditions, are being referred to the group by housing associations, social workers, Borders Carers Centre and charities Red Cross and Penumbra. Anyone needing help or keen to volunteer can call 07943 262460 or email:[email protected]

In the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys, meanwhile, resilience coordinators have set up delivery chains to the scattered rural communities there from businesses in Selkirk and organised online quizzes to keep residents connected..

Volunteer Gordon Harrison said: “Before the government announced the total lock down it was becoming quite apparent that Covid-19 was going to really test the strength of our community resilience.”

Acting quickly meant central drop-off points were soon operating for those suppliers willing to deliver food to the valleys and a weekly door-to-door distribution set up.

“The group then turned its attention to combatting isolation and promoting mental well-being,” Gordon added. An online quiz now runs weekly and a socially-distant street ceilidh was recently held in Ettrick Bridge.

Elsewhere, 40 Darnick residents are being looked after by a team of 25 volunteering villagers offering deliveries and regular check-ins, and in Kelso medication and food are being delivered daily. Volunteers there are also being offering dog walking help as well as supporting Kelso food bank.

Dean Weatherston, Kelso Resilience Group chairman, added: “It is a testament to our tight knit community that we have had so many people come forward to volunteer for our group.”

The local authority’s resilience communities initiative was set up 10 years ago to co-ordinate Borders volunteers to respond to emergency situations in each town.

The council’s chief executive Tracey Logan added: “The resilient communities teams are providing vital support and assistance for some of our most vulnerable people. At such a challenging time, it is pleasing to see large numbers of new volunteers come forward to join their local resilience communities group to support their efforts.

“This service is a critical part of the Scottish Borders’ overall coronavirus response and is greatly appreciated by the council and the people they are assisting.”

Anyone needing support can contact their area’s community hub can email: [email protected] or call 0300 100 1800 and select option seven.

Borderers continue to applaud the country’s key workers each Thursday night, too, read the latest on that here: