Since the pandemic started back in March, volunteering has become increasingly popular, with one in every five adults in the UK now taking part in some level of volunteer work. For those living in Churchdown and Innsworth, volunteering has given many their sense of community back.

Vikki Savage from Innsworth started volunteering for the Hungry No More food bank after her friend Lel Tyrell set it up in October 2020 after realising that the area wasn’t covered by any other food banks. Vikki is disabled and is currently shielding but when she can help out she has managed to make the work of storing and packing the food disabled-friendly in their small shed round the back of St Johns Church.

For Vikki, there is a great sense of pride for the work she does “So far I’ve met some lovely people and seen how desperate some people are through no fault of their own due to the pandemic (being furloughed and their money just covers bills) it’s a good feeling helping when I can.”

Jane Moore from Churchdown was one of many to volunteer their time during the lockdowns after seeing requests for help on social media. The retired University of Gloucestershire lecturer and her 70-year-old critically vulnerable husband were shielding and Jane needed something to do. As she has a sewing machine she got to work making scrub bags, mask extenders, fidget mats and bunting for VJ day.

For Jane these projects gave her a sense of purpose.

I loved being occupied and feeling purposeful, I’ve really enjoyed being involved in these projects.”

Jane wouldn’t have been able to help those in her community if it wasn’t for Churchdown Parish Councillor and Tewkesbury Borough Councillor Mary Jordan.

The local councillor saw that there was not only a real need in the community but also a ready and waiting workforce. After receiving the request from Parton Manor care home for scrub bags she created the Churchdown & Innsworth Helping Hands Facebook group as a way to be able to communicate current needs and projects with the community.

Since that first request, Mary has had a hand to play in organising a whole range of projects from bunting to lavender bags to go in hampers for local doctors and nurses.

For Remembrance Day Mary’s kitchen was turned into a workshop creating concrete poppies that were then painted by volunteers like Jane. She is now creating more concrete flowers in neon colours to brighten up the villages for those to see as they go on their daily walks.

But for Mary, the most important thing is the impact that her work has had on the community.

I think people are happy to see it all, I think they feel more engaged with the community. It does bring people together.

It has promoted the feeling of community and it has included people who wouldn’t normally be included.

By MalsomH

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