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First class support from Newark Community First Aid

Newark Community First Aid are a local first aid charity in Newark, covering the town and the surrounding 15 mile radius. All their 61 members are volunteers and range in age from 16 to 84 years of age, providing first aid training to over 2,000 people and first aid cover at around 400 local events every year. Apart from workplace training all their services are free to the community.

As a member of the Local Resilience Forum (LRF) Volunteer Cell, they were contacted early on to ask if their organisation would be able to help in the COVID-19 emergency. They quickly established which of their members, due to age or medical condition, could not help on the front line as they were being shielded. All their other volunteers said they would help and, although many are key workers in the NHS, grocery retail and food production, they were happy to do so on days off and it was established that on average they would have 10 to 15 volunteers available every day in April and May.

The group quickly started to receive local requests to help with medication and shopping but initially only a few requests. The LRF then asked if they could assist the county council's Adult Social Care team with telephone wellness checks and for the last four weeks they have had a small team working on this from their homes, contacting over 50 vulnerable adults and/or families, sometimes daily, for a quick chat to check all is well. The team have found this very satisfying as it's clear many appreciate the call and they have built a good rapport and been able to highlight and quickly deal with problems via the NCC Social Care team. Linda, one of the volunteers, said, “I am finding talking to the clients on the wellness checks so rewarding, many are very grateful for a few minutes chat and yesterday one was singing to me - it was very moving”.

They are still collecting medication and shopping, delivering in Newark and surrounding villages. People are extremely grateful for the help and for a quick chat from two metres. Going out to local villages, their volunteers not only receive thanks, but a few thank you presents –  eggs fresh from the chickens, fresh vegetables and one lady even baked them a few cakes, highlighting how the pandemic has served to bring many people together while at the same time keeping them apart.

They are pleased, though, that though they and many other charities have volunteers waiting to help, they have not been needed in such great number as perhaps first thought as the NHS, councils and major retailers have stepped up and done a terrific job. Regardless, they retain a group of volunteers willing to help with the proposed Clinical Management Centres if needed and will try to help wherever and for as long as the community need is there.