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Twyford COVID-19 support group founder thanks community and volunteers for their help during the pandemic

A COVID-19 community group in Twyford has been supporting residents with shopping, dog walking and carrying out prescription drops and collections since the pandemic began.

The Twyford Berks COVID-19 Community Support Group was started on Facebook on Wednesday, March 15 by village resident Sam Bramwell.

Discussing why she set the group up, Sam said: “My parents live quite a distance from me.

“And I was just really worried and thought, what's going to happen to them?

“Now they’re lucky because they do have people around them.

“But it just struck me that actually there are people who don’t have anybody.”

Prior to taking a pause at the end of July, the group, which has helped the community more than 800 times, featured a core team of around eight or nine, with about 300 to 400 volunteers helping out in some way.

About 100 have been regular volunteers.

Volunteers of all ages have helped residents, including shopping for them, walking dogs and carrying out prescription drops and collections.

The group covered Twyford, Ruscombe and Charvil and has also stretched out into Hurst and Wargrave as well as Winnersh and Woodley.

In the beginning, Sam said the demographic of residents requiring help was varied as many people from different age groups were isolating or shielding, but a core group of elderly residents soon emerged and the group are still supporting some of those residents today.

Sam added the group has worked with a ‘number of agencies’ throughout, including Age Concern, Twyford Together and Twyford Parish Council.

As part of the efforts, Tesco Express and Waitrose in the village also donated food.

Sam said: “As the panic subsided and Waitrose introduced shopping guidance we asked them if we could send in volunteers on a Tuesday and Friday before they opened, this allowed two volunteers to complete up to 10 shops and reduce the amount of volunteers having to expose themselves and others to the virus, potentially. It worked very well.”

In the spring, a business group was also set up via Twyford Together, focusing on how to ensure that people are buying from Twyford businesses and supporting local organisations.

Discussing the COVID-19 group, Sam said: “I’m really proud of everybody. People have been working, they’ve been trying to home school, dealing with their own family issues, as well as also helping out and being great partners in setting this up and helping to run it and volunteering as well. I think it’s given people something to focus on.

“Everybody has talked about the wonderful kindness that is being shown and that community spirit and if we created that as a result of something that is quite awful, then that will be a wonderful outcome.”

She added: “[I want to say] thank you, everyone’s been amazing. I’m so proud of our community and I’ve just been so moved by the kindness shown to each other.”

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