"helping the community in need"
Back at the start of March 2020 a local Ottery St Mary resident floated an idea on social media. Her idea was to create a volunteer team to help the “at risk”, elderly, self-isolating and key workers in our community.
From that seed of an idea, in one week over 400 local residents signed up to join and selflessly come to the aid of those around them. Ottery Community Volunteers (OCV) became a reality. Now a unregistered Not for Profit organisation the group has already mobilised to provide vital support to the local community.
What is the purpose of the group?
OCV have three key objectives:
• To establish and sustain for an extended time, a volunteer force capable of supporting our community.
• To minimise the transmission and infection rates of Covid-19 by reducing the footfall within our community and supporting people in isolation.
• To maintain a robust and enduring volunteer operation for as long as is needed, resilient enough to support our community.
What are we actually doing for our community?
We have divided the volunteer network into priority areas:
Pharmacy Group – collecting and delivering prescriptions for the target people.
Deliveries Team – shopping for essential supplies, delivered to homes for those self-isolating & vulnerable.
Foodbank Team – Our volunteers also work with Ottery Foodbank, supporting their essential efforts.
Mental health wellbeing – A service to our volunteers, run by volunteer healthcare professionals.
Finance team - Using prepaid cards to minimise the use of cash and the risks for transmission of Covid-19, as well as ensuring robust financial accountability.
News & Views
Your Ottery Community Volunteers News Centre
Hundreds of deliveries in weeks
With over 300 volunteers working both in the town and behind the scenes, we have delivered 650 prescriptions and over 376 essential shopping trips.
This has all been achieved in a matter of weeks and is a credit to the amazing volunteer team.
Thank you Key Workers and Thank You Ottery St Mary for being the sunshine that makes the rainbow possible.
With spirit like our town has we will endure this together and be a stronger community for it.
Both Well and Boots pharmacies offer their own delivery service, please use these services where possible. Our prescription team collect and deliver prescriptions regularly from Boots & Well pharmacies on the days which they are open.
We are also able to drop off repeat prescription slips or take details of its collection over the phone to take to your preferred pharmacy.
Please ensure that any payment is made for prescriptions in advance of collection, we can help you with this if required.
Controlled drugs will need to be delivered to you by the pharmacy themselves, however Wells pharmacy can release some controlled drugs to the volunteers.
All of our delivery teams will wear their Ottery Community Volunteers ID badge and will adhere to social distancing.
Nothing will be left without acknowledgment, so if you're unable to hear the door we will call you.
We offer a shopping service for those who are unable to leave their home and we can be used as a last resort.
Several of the main supermarkets in the area offer home delivery services and will prioritise those who are vulnerable, isolated and in need.
If you do wish to utilise our shopping service then please consider:
Ordering enough to last several days
Placing your order with us 24 hours in advance
Paying, if possible, by bank transfer or cheque.
Payment options will be explained to you by our volunteers on receipt of your request for shopping.
Our shopping teams will always wear their Ottery Community Volunteers ID badges and will adhere to social distancing.
The food bank is a local store of non-perishable food operated by Churches Together in Ottery in conjunction with Honiton Community Church. Food is made available to those who are in ‘food crisis’. That is, they have no food and no money with which to buy food.
We do not supply food on direct request from the public. Need is assessed by professionals from local agencies and local church leaders. They issue vouchers that entitle the bearer to food sufficient for their household for three days.
If you, or someone you know, need help you can ask social, health, education or church workers in Ottery. They will be able to give you a voucher or contact us on your behalf.
Our team of willing and able volunteers are on standby to assist you with essential little jobs that need doing.
These could include:
Checking on a family member who is isolated.
Taking your pet pooch for a brisk walk for some exercise.
Dropping off urgent parcels at the post office or newsagents.
Helping bring fuel into the house, logs, coal etc.
There are many things we can help with, and if we can't we'll do our best to find someone who can.
A massive thank you to the local businesses above who have kindly donated, including the local staff at Sainsbury's.
Why are we fund raising?
Whilst OCV has already started work, up until this point we have relied upon a great deal of good will from volunteers and businesses. In order for us to offer a safe, sustainable, efficient and professional service for our local community we need funding. We recognise that there will be a requirement for active community support for many months to come. We will be using the funds raised to cover a wide range of budgeted costs including:
• Safeguarding training including Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for volunteers
• Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
• Volunteer out of pockets expenses including mileage claims
• Stationery & consumables
• Software licences
• Printing and postage
• Staffing & resources
Donations can be made by clicking donate or by cheque to:
Ottery Community Volunteers
The Council Offcies
8 Broad Street
Ottery St Mary
"Act as if what you do makes a difference.
Like to volunteer?
Are you looking to support Ottery Community Volunteers? We’d love to receive your help, and so will the community we provide for.
There are many varied roles within our organisation, which includes:
Deliveries of food and medicine
Planning and logistics
Register now as a volunteer and see how you can help us keep the residents of Ottery St Mary safe.
However you are able to help, we can assure you that it will have a major impact on the lives of many.
"Where do we go from here?"
Ottery Community Volunteers to provide long-term support for residents
Long-term benefits will come out of the coronavirus crisis in Ottery St Mary, as the team of community volunteers sets up new services that will continue after lockdown ends.
Hundreds of volunteers have been helping those in need since the start of lockdown, enabling them to stay safe in their homes by taking care of their shopping, prescriptions and other necessities.
Now the group have been making plans for their long-term activities after the Covid-19 threat has been addressed.
Stewart Lucas, town councillor and director of the Ottery Community Volunteers, has provided this report on what they are planning to do.
“Ottery Community Volunteers has been up and running within the parish of Ottery St Mary for nearly three months now. Everything we have done has been for the purpose of fulfilling our mission statement ‘to deliver essential and sustainable support to our community in its time of need’.
The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in all of us facing profound changes to our lives. The need for social distancing and lockdown resulted in many of us being suddenly unable to work, carry out our normal routines or visit family & friends. Many people have lost income and in some cases even ended up unemployed.
Older people and those classed as vulnerable have been completely housebound, often cut off from their normal support networks and social circles. People have sadly lost loved ones and have been subjected to a situation which has caused much emotional and mental stress. We have all had to accept the ‘new normal’ and endeavour to cope with the myriad challenges it has brought.
In order to help people through this time and provide support regardless of age or circumstance we have recruited hundreds of volunteers, delivered thousands of items of food and essential supplies and collected & delivered over 400 pharmacy prescriptions.
We have produced leaflets and information for people signposting them to local businesses capable of delivering various essential supplies.
One of the key aspects of supporting our community is ensuring that we keep the risk of transmission & infection as low as possible. By ensuring that people can get food shopping, essential supplies and prescriptions delivered to their home we have been able to significantly reduce the amount of people going out and have also taken a lot of pressure off the local pharmacies.
We have also implemented a risk management policy designed to keep our volunteer force safe. Anyone on active delivery duty gets issued with a VHF radio, any PPE required and a high visibility vest. We also use a rota system to make sure people get adequate rest days in order to limit exposure. Everything we do is considered carefully in regard to balancing the provision of our service and activity against potential infection risk.
We have actively sought to identify funding opportunities and have been successful in securing over £15,000 from various sources including Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, Ottery St Mary Town Council, The National Lottery and private donors. We are extremely grateful to all and will ensure this money is put to good use.
Most people will be very aware that we are now entering into a new phase of this crisis. Government guidance is moving towards a gradual easing of lockdown measures.
There is still much uncertainty in regards to the many challenges our communities face. We have to observe various guidelines as we go about our lives and work in order to keep the risk of infection contained while transitioning to a less strict control of activities. There will still be many people left unable to work and a significant amount of the most vulnerable that are advised to maintain isolation and shielding.
Our service will remain operational in order to ensure that these people will have access to help and support.
Currently we are looking to the future, trying to anticipate key areas of concern, the difficulties yet to be faced and to ensure that we are well placed to meet them. We know from the government and medical advice that there is still significant risk to people from this virus.
There have been a lot of news articles recently talking about the potential for a second wave of infection and also the economic impacts that will likely cause hardships for many people. It will be essential for us to plan ahead effectively, so that no matter what happens we are adequately prepared to offer help where it is needed.
To this end we intend to evolve Ottery Community Volunteers beyond being a ‘crisis support group’ and start to develop strategies which will build more local resilience overall in the long term.
We have already been working cooperatively alongside other organisations such as Ottery St Mary Town Council and the Food Bank. We believe that there is opportunity, need and potential benefit in expanding on this local community cooperation with other groups. The lessons we have learned from this crisis have effectively highlighted that we are stronger together.
Current projects and initiatives being worked on include the following:
Ottery Community Cafes
We have launched the Ottery Community Cafes which is an online service provided by our volunteers that have qualifications and experience in offering mental health services. (Note: These are currently suspended until required again.)
One of the most significant dilemmas and threats facing local economies currently is that the ongoing Covid-19 crisis will have a huge negative impact on the tourist industry. Many people depend on the income generated by tourism and are not likely to easily survive a large downturn in revenue. We want to help support local tourist based businesses by encouraging the ‘staycation’. This idea comprises of two key parts. Firstly that those in the tourism sector are encouraged to offer incentives for people to book their holidays within their local area. Secondly that people actively seek to book holidays, visits and activities locally.
We are currently reaching out to various organisations in order to further develop this idea and hope that, with the right support, it could gain momentum.
Finally, to everyone that has supported us so far. If you are a volunteer, a donor or an organisation that has helped us and been part of our efforts we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
We could not have done this without you!
We believe that our way of life, our part of the world and our communities represent something special.
We are committed to keeping it that way and helping to bring people together so that we can face whatever the future may have in store for us.
Stewart Lucas (Ottery Community Volunteers)
(Published by Sidmouth Herald
25 May 2020)
Ottery Community Volunteers
5 Raleigh Road
Ottery St Mary