St Albans/Welwyn/Hatfield Area Report 21/3/20
In the St Albans Area, there are many roads where they are setting up ‘support groups’ for neighbours offering to do shopping, dog walking or other practical tasks in addition to being a friendly voice at the end of a telephone. Some of this is being done through Neighbourhood Watch schemes where there is already a network. Others are using WhatsApp and Zoom to ‘meet’ virtually and to socialise in creative ways.
A number of churches are streamlining services to keep in touch with their members and are also setting up support networks for practical help as well as providing telephone/video support to keep people connected. There is the recognition that with many people in isolation for extended periods, mental well being is a priority.
The food banks do seem to be struggling with donations due to the panic buying, but with shops changing their practices of opening hours and limiting purchases, it is hoped that this might settle over time. The immediate is more of a concern. It is good that a number of restaurants are now offering ‘takeout’ services which are a great help for those who aren’t able to use online shopping or get out themselves.
Despite the challenges I am encouraged that many individuals are coming to the fore to help others and to suggest creative ways of keeping in touch. I am also aware of people offering their services to Communities First.
I think we have a positive role to play in terms of connecting people and organisations as well as sharing information, ideas and expertise, and by showing that we care, which hopefully provides reassurance to those who are particularly anxious.