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The community volunteers who spent lockdown helping the vulnerable

The community volunteers who spent lockdown helping the vulnerable

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 8:00am 2nd August 2020.

Meet the community volunteers who spent lockdown helping vulnerable people on the outskirts of Truro.

From picking up prescriptions, delivering groceries and walking dogs, to digging gardens, arranging foodbank parcels and driving people to hospital appointments - local community volunteers have been helping vulnerable people in Threemilestone and Shortlanesend to cope with the impact of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions. 

Originally created through a collaboration between Russell Keeble, a steward at the Threemilestone Methodist Church; volunteers from the local patrol group set up to help tackle anti social behaviour in the village; local Cornwall Councillor Dulcie Tudor and local businessman Ed Crossley, the 35 members of the Threemilestone and Gloweth Community Volunteer Group have carried out more than 600 jobs for 85 local residents since being set up on 6th March.  

“While the official lockdown did not begin until 23 March, it had become increasingly apparent at the beginning of the month that national restrictions were going to be introduced in the UK and many local residents had already begun to self isolate.

“We wanted to make sure that we had a system in place to help the vulnerable members of our local community.”

Group co-ordinator, Russell Keeble

Shortlanesend community volunteers
Community volunteers in Shortlanesend

Within days of first appealing for volunteers, the team had delivered flyers offering support to homes around the village, and posted information on notice boards, in the village magazine and on social media. 

After setting up a special What’s App group to manage the requests for help, providing personal protective equipment and photo ID for the volunteers and making arrangements with the local shops and the pharmacy to pick up shopping and prescriptions, the volunteers were ready to go.  

While the arrangements with the local shops worked well, some volunteers initially found themselves queuing for long periods as the supermarkets struggled to deal with the impact of panic buying. 

“The first couple of weeks were a little chaotic but then everything seemed to settle down.

“Since then we have carried out 407 grocery runs and 133 prescription runs;  provided people with lifts to hospital and GP appointments; done the odd spot of gardening and some simple DIY repairs, moved heavy items and helped people sort out foodbank parcels and hardship loans. 

“Some volunteers who were keen to help but were not able to leave their homes because they were shielding provided a befriending service over the phone to people who were living on their own."

Group co-ordinator, Russell Keeble

Russell is incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped with the group and says that the enthusiasm and commitment of the volunteers demonstrates the strength of community spirit within the village. 


The picture has been the same in Shortlanesend where members of the village’s Covid Support Group have supported vulnerable people in their local community. 

Initially set up by Chris and Susanne O’Brien, Ryan Penhallurick, Mark Harry, David Coad, Kelvin Walsh, Chloe and Karen Harding and Sue Emery, the group was soon joined by additional volunteers as the requests for help increased. 

“We issued every household with a red and a green card to put in their windows so people had an easy way of getting help if they needed it.

“95% of households joined the card scheme, with members of the group carrying out twice daily patrols around the village to check if anyone needed help.  We also asked members of the public to keep a look out during their daily exercise. 

“Within days we were being kept very busy doing shopping, dog walking, collecting prescriptions and carrying out other jobs for people living in the village.”

Mark Harry, landlord of The Old Plough pub in Shortlanesend and Chairman of Kenwyn Parish Council

Members of the group also organised a number of activities to help raise morale within the village. These includes donating chocolate Easter bunnies to local children and using a flatbed truck owned by Active Groundworks to mount a special exhibition of the children’s Easter drawings in the pub car park, to staging a “village bake off” competition and publishing a village book containing recipes, pictures, drawings and facebook posts and poems. 

Like Russell, Mark Harry is very grateful to everyone for supporting the scheme.  

“We are truly blessed to live in an area that has been so drawn together and supportive during the pandemic. It brought out the best in the people parish -wide.”

Anyone who would like to join the Shortlanesend scheme going forward should phone 01872 830380.

threemilestone community volunteers
Community volunteers in Threemilestone

While the relaxation of lockdown restrictions has led to a reduction in requests for help the group in Threemilestone is still supporting around 20 to 25 people.  With many of the volunteers now back at work Russell is keen to hear from anyone living in the Threemilestone and Gloweth areas who could spare some time to support vulnerable people in their local community. 

 “As well as continuing to help people affected by Covid 19, we are also looking to build on the work of the group to develop other projects to support our local community.

 “These include raising funds to buy tablets or smart phones to loan to vulnerable people so they can keep in touch with friends and relatives. If this is successful we could stage virtual coffee mornings or book groups they could join, or even go along to film local events so they could feel part of what is happening in the village”. 

Group co-ordinator, Russell Keeble

“The Threemilestone and Gloweth Volunteer Group was one of the first in Cornwall to get going, even before the Govt. announced lockdown. This was only possible because members of the already established village patrol group were ready and organised to spring onto action. 

“It’s been wonderful to see younger members of our community stepping up to help, often when they were busy looking out for their own friends and relatives, home schooling their children, worrying about their own jobs and livelihoods, or in the case of the medical students in Gloweth, studying for their exams.

“We’ve shown what the people of Threemilestone and Gloweth can do when they put their minds to it, but the work’s not over yet and the group is now looking forwards to try and find ways to keep this new community energy going in a way that will continue to the benefit vulnerable and isolated people in our area.”

Councillor Dulcie Tudor

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