An idea by a young church member to help people with shopping has mushroomed to see over 1,000 answered calls for practical support for the vulnerable and isolated in a Shropshire town.
Shifnal Help launched the week before lockdown as St Andrew’s Church brought together a community partnership to launch an emergency phone line for local people who were self-isolating.
Fast forward two months, and it now operates a helpline six days a week offering support, medication collection and delivery, shopping and other key tasks – with the local pub becoming a food donations hub.
Shifnal Vicar The Revd Preb Chris Thorpe explains: “It all started with one young mum from church called Elizabeth, who posted an offer to help people with shopping!
“We printed and delivered 5,000 leaflets to every home in the parish and began to recruit volunteers. 80 people came forward and offered to help. Catherine Rogers, our Outreach Enabler, helped to set up a GDPR compliant data base, so that people could register for help securely. She trained a team of people to receive calls and another team to allocate jobs.
“One key partner was a local MHA (Methodist Homes Association) Live at Home Scheme who prepared volunteers to help those stuck at home. We have also been helped by Shifnal Town Council with advice and help with funding.
“When people have been unable to pay for food we have supplied food parcels and purchased particular things needed. A local pub, The White Hart, has become our base for food donations. It has been an amazing privilege to work with such a dedicated and highly motivated team and to see that we could make a real difference.”
The helpline – 01952 462271 – is based at St Andrew’s Church Office, with the venture supported by other local Methodist and Roman Catholic churches and organisations including the local school’s PTFA, The Coop, Shifnal Matters and Royal British Legion.
To mark the 1,000th call Shifnal Help has launched a Just Giving Page to ensure that the service can continue to support those in need at home.
Pictured: Rachel Powell, from Live At Home, sorting a food parcel with her daughter Steph.