Town goes above and beyond in third lockdown
- Credit: Ian Burt
With the UK entering its third national lockdown, Dereham is going beyond simply following government guidance - with a wealth of volunteers springing into action, and businesses proactively moving online even when allowed to stay open.
Mayor Stuart Green said: “It’s obviously a shame that we’re back in this situation. It makes a big difference to everyone and lives have been changed overnight.
“But I think it’s important that we follow the rules and hopefully, with the vaccines rolling out, the light is there, and we’ll be out of the tunnel soon.”
“It will be a tough several weeks, but we have to think about the safety and the health of everyone in the community, especially those who are most vulnerable, and especially with the new strain being so potentially transmissible.”
He added that it was “great” the town had so many volunteers willing to speak to those who are lonely and to run errands.
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“I congratulate and thank all those volunteers who are doing such good work, for nearly a year now,” said Mr Green.
District councillor Alison Webb, who co-ordinates the Dereham Cares support group, said the start of the week had seen a marked increase in phone calls from the isolated and people needing prescriptions.
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Ms Webb said: “I think the supermarkets have got their act together a lot more this time, and they’re catering a lot more for home deliveries, so that side of things is not so much of a worry, but we’re obviously concerned about loneliness. We are there to help.”
In addition to Dereham Cares, the Wellspring Church are continuing to operate their emergency response service - offering the same help with errands and phone calls to the isolated.
Church leader Jon Beardon said: “Please, if you don’t know where else to turn, you can certainly give us a call and we’ll do what we can to help you.
“It might be that you just want to talk to someone if you’re feeling lonely or afraid, or if you want someone to pray for you, or if you’ve got a practical need, then give us a call and we’ll see if we’re able to help you with that.
“We’re connected to lots of other groups, so we may be able to find someone who’s more able to help, if we’re not the right people,” he added.
District councillor Harry Clarke urged residents not to push the boundaries of the rules.
“Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should,” said Mr Clarke.
“It’s very straightforward: you have to think about yourself, think about others, access all the advice and support, look out for each other, try and shop locally,” he added.
Businesses across the town have taken several decisions to keep people safe.
Zoë Flint, a reflexologist who owns Top to Toe Massage, announced that her baby massage classes would be returning to Zoom, despite the guidance allowing her to stay open.
“Although we are still permitted to hold the classes, one of my babies that attended my class last year has got Covid and I just thought: I don’t want my classes to be the cause of it spreading.”
Ms Flint said her “heart was really torn” over whether to remain open, but that she hoped to continue supporting parents via Zoom and WhatsApp.
“I know lockdown is difficult for everybody, but it’s hard having a baby,” said Ms Flint, who added that she hoped to keep fostering a sense of support among mums in the town.
“I’ve set up a WhatsApp group for each of my classes… I thought that I might extend that for new mums and link them together basically, because of the support that they give each other, and it just reassures them that they do know what they’re doing, and to have faith in themselves."
Other businesses, such as the Tall Orders cafe, have reduced their takeaway opening hours, while the town’s market will continue operating its essential stalls.
Dereham Cares can deliver food and household essentials (07940 169 722), or prescriptions (07568 571 901) and are just as happy to speak to those in need of a chat (07826 521 408).
Similar services are offered by the Wellspring Church (01362 854581).
New parents can contact Zoë Flint at email@example.com or call 07710 897498