In March 2020, Lynette Bloomfield set up a home delivery service for self-isolating Silva customers who need some extra help during the lockdown. Usually, Lynette is our health and wellbeing assistant, but now she is responsible for managing 11 of her colleagues, who have volunteered to deliver medicine and essential supplies to the front doors of those in need.
I’d usually get the residents out and about in the communal areas with activities like charity cake and coffee mornings, bingo, rabbit racing and a ‘guess the childhood photo game’ which is always a hoot.
Instead, I’ll begin the week by calling some of our customers to make sure they’re okay and then I’ll take food orders and organise the collection of medicine. It’s lovely talking to them and unsurprisingly the main topic of conversation these days is Covid-19, which worries them.
Once I’ve got the orders, I’ll liaise with our dedicated volunteers, who are Silva Homes colleagues, via our WhatsApp group and through email, to match deliveries with our eleven-strong team. I started out on my own, but once it became clear we needed extra pairs of hands the service really took off.
Our volunteers head to the local supermarkets with their shopping lists, which include basics like bread and milk. Hardy perennials like digestive biscuits and hot-crossed buns are popular, but our customers are a healthy lot and get in plenty of fruit and veg.
I try to minimise travel times for the volunteers as they head to homes across Bracknell and when they’re on the road I’ll often speak to customers who I know well and who want a chinwag. But all the while I’ll be checking to make sure the volunteers get back home okay and send over the shopping receipts so I can keep track of everything.
I’m having to adapt to new ways of working and instead of face-to-face meetings, I have a video conference with my manager just to keep in touch and make sure everything is okay. This is a great time to consider how the volunteers are doing and whether we can give them any more support.
Our customers are often in touch to say how grateful they are, not only for someone getting their shopping, but that our volunteers are happy to have a chat as well – albeit from a safe distance. They relish the company and the Silva volunteers are also getting a lot out of helping people in this difficult time.
At the end of the week, I must admit I do feel a sense of satisfaction because I know how much of a difference this programme makes for so many people.
I get up, get dressed and normally go out for a walk to the local pet shop with my family to pick up some supplies for our pet fish. Then we have lunch and go out in the afternoon for a walk or bike ride. Sometimes my 11-year-old daughter brings her bike and sometimes she uses her hoverboard so she can go whizzing off. When we get home, my daughter usually helps me to cook dinner. We normally all watch a film together before she goes to bed.
This is my cleaning and washing day, so most of it is taken up with housework, but in the afternoon we normally go out for a walk to my parents and catch up with them from the driveway before walking home for dinner.