It set out to help people who were lonely but Bury St Edmunds Rickshaw is now working with West Suffolk Council to get supplies to the vulnerable during Covid19.
The Rickshaw project, which relies on volunteers, was set up in 2018 after receiving locality budget support from Bury St Edmunds Town councillors and members of West Suffolk Council to help it take people who were stuck indoors and isolated due to limited mobility, get out to see the town and people.
Since lockdown however it has been helping people who are shielding or self-isolating – including referrals from the Home But Not Alone service – collecting and delivering food and medical supplies to their doorsteps.
Libby Ranzetta, one of founders of the project said: “The response from people wanting to volunteer has been fantastic. We have 29 riders helping with the deliveries and another 13 people handling calls behind the scenes. At any one time during the day we have four riders on the road and three volunteers in our virtual ‘control room. We collect from all pharmacies in the town and most supermarkets and are averaging 20 to 30 deliveries most days. Since lockdown began we’ve completed 663 deliveries.”
Bury St Edmunds Rickshaw is part of a network of close of 379 community groups and volunteers from across West Suffolk that are connected to the Home But Not Alone Service.
Lisa Grove, Customer Services Manager at West Suffolk Council, said: “The idea is that vulnerable people who have no immediate family or friends to support them, can ring a hotline available from 9am to 5pm seven days a week. Staff at West Suffolk Council answer those calls and contact volunteers in the town, village or estate who can then help that vulnerable person. Calls have included a nurse unable to get to her elderly parents who have been told to shield and an elderly man who was new to the area and didn’t have anyone else he felt he could turn to for support. In both cases we were able to help by contacting local volunteers in their area.”
Leader of West Suffolk Council John Griffiths said: “Bury St Edmunds Rickshaw, its volunteers and the other hundreds of community groups across West Suffolk, are fulfilling such an important role in helping people who are most at risk, stay home and stay safe.
“Part of our role is in supporting these groups in what they are doing, including through locality budgets, while Home But Not Alone also provides a safety net to ensure everyone that needs support at this time, can get that help through a quick phone call.
“We have a strong track record of working with our communities and we will be here, continuing to work with them long after this crisis is over. In the meantime, stay safe and if you need to, call our team.”
The Home, But Not Alone number is 0800 876 6926.