‘YOU HAVE all gone above and beyond to help’ – those were the words of Rubery Morrisons’ Community Champion Jane Williams at a special thank you event for people, businesses and groups who had suppported others during the Coronavirus crisis.
The get-together was for those who had assisted people in need in Rubery, Rednal, Frankley, Longbridge and Northfield.
Jason Horner from Frankley’s Grace Community Church has volunteered at NewStarts foodbank delivering parcels to the elderly, vulnerable and shielding.
He said: “The foodbank was just a small part of NewStarts but as people struggled to get food during the lockdown it became the main operation to cope with the demand.
“It has been very rewarding.”
NewStarts Frankley has been delivering the equivalent of 3,500 meals-a-week to those who need them – from single people and couples to large families.
Butcher Tony Geraghty delivered free hampers of meat to frontline NHS staff, key workers, those self-isolating and the self-employed.
He said: “We have a lot of friends who are self-employed and they seemed to be left with no support to begin with and then the funding took six weeks to clear.
“We also wanted to support NHS and key workers and those who were unable to leave their homes.”
And while Tony was sorting out the hampers, his wife Rachel Geraghty and their children Scarlett, eight, Billy, seven, and Niamh, 11, were cooking Sunday lunches for those who needed them – they delivered 42-a-week – 21 to Northfield and Longbridge and 21 to Redditch – the two areas Tony’s butcher’s business covers.
Rachel said: “The scheme was covered on the TV news and to see people’s reaction when the meals were delivered was incredible.”
Andy and Gemma Cartwright helped with Tony’s scheme and at local foodbanks and were also among those recognised during the event.
Andy said: “This community has always been a close-knit one and it is great to see.
“You know that in times of trouble or whenever something is needed, people – young and old – will step forward and help out – not only that but they will do it with smiles on their faces.”
Bob Jones from the Northfield Community Partnership worked at the Allens Cross Foodbank and has been delivering prescriptions in the area.
He said: “You can see how grateful people are when they get the help they need. It’s wonderful to see.”
Sas and Marty Taylor from B31 Voices were also praised during the celebration for keeping the people in Northfield and the surrounding areas up-to-date and informed and leading community projects.
Agency teaching assistant Kayleigh Kimberley – also recognised by Morrisons – came up with an idea to put resources online to help parents who were home schooling and B31 Voices facilitated that.
She said: “Nobody knew how long schools would be closed for so I wanted to use my knowledge and experience to help.
“I’m a trained nursery nurse as well so I put up as much as I can on the B31 Community Classroom – I made sure there was something for all ages and a mix of educational and fun activities.
“The problem was the way parents had been taught and the way children learn now are completely different and I think that caused a lot of clashes.
“I also put up suggestions about how parents could talk to children about the pandemic and the situations surrounding it.”
Tammy Clayton, who runs the Frankley Forum with Nicola Garvey, has been helping deliver meals and hampers and been there on the phone for people when they got anxious or needed help.
The forum put together ‘happy bags’ featuring games for younger children to keep them occupied during the lockdown hours and toiletries for older ones.
She said: “We have always had a great community in Frankley but I think the pandemic and lockdown brought everyone even closer together.”
Stephen and Curtis Pugh run Tracey’s Dream which offers respite breaks at a special caravan in Evesham for cancer patients and their families but all that had to be put on hold with the restrictions.
Instead they have been making gift bags for elderly people, cancer patients and anyone who needed help and making packages for children featuring crisps, popcorn and other treats.
Stephen said: “It is a lot different to what we usually do but we just wanted to help.”
Now the restrictions are easing they are offering breaks in the caravan to NHS workers and other people who have helped during the pandemic. The Tracey’s Dream breaks for cancer patients and their families will return when it is safe to do so.
And the Bromsgrove Standard also got a mention from Jane who praised the paper – available from Morrisons – for the way it had kept people up-to-date with everything going on locally, the latest Coronavirus news and ensuring everyone knew where they could get help during the pandemic if they needed it.
Jane, after presenting each individual and group with a hamper, said: “I just wanted to say thank you for everything you have done and continue to do.
“I have seen so much good being done through social media and how wonderful every one of you has been.
“I organised this today to thank you for all your efforts.
“Please keep up the good work!”