Voluntary sector shows again how it responds quickly

Lorraine Ralph of BSRIN

Lorraine Ralph, secretary and treasurer for Budleigh Salterton Relief in Need charity, receives a 'Certificate of Appreciation' on behalf of the charity from Richard Allen, president of the Lions Club of Budleigh Salterton - Credit: BSRIN

The last 18 months have shown just how good the voluntary sector in the UK is.

At the first hint of the Covid pandemic local groups and charities sprang into action to help their community. Their quick thinking, flexibility and recruitment of volunteers literally saved the day for some people.  

In Exmouth the Facebook group Exmouth Mutual Aid performed thousands of tasks from shopping, prescription collection to welfare checks.

In Budleigh the Covid 19 Support group was formed. The Budleigh Lions, Seachange, GP Practice, Churches, Town Council, Schools and Budleigh Relief in Need came together to pool resources and skills. Again, many thousands of tasks were performed. Who would have done them otherwise? The same is true for Woodbury, East Budleigh, Lypmstone and other villages locally.  

A few weeks and months later the slow wheel of bureaucracy in local, regional and national governments tried to pick up steam but never really had the flexibility to cope. In fact, they turned to the voluntary sector in many cases to help run local and national projects such as the NHS Volunteer Responders.  

That ability to cope with peaks and troughs in demand has been shown again recently. Last Friday Seachange was asked to provide help to Afghan refugees in Exmouth. The following Monday Seachange staff and volunteers were on site managing the medical appointments of refugees and being a liaison between them and medical professionals. Can you imagine having the trauma of leaving a country which has been at war for 10 years, being in a new country with your young children not being able to speak the language or know your way around. If you were then asked to make you way to a hospital in Exeter would you cope? 

Although to be fair to Devon County Council, the staff on the ground have been amazing. Dealing with refugees certainly wasn’t in their job description but they have done their very best and I know the refugees appreciate their help.  

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Many people and organisations also stepped in many weeks ago with the offer of clothes, toys and personal items. To name but a few, Exmouth Food Bank have provided hygiene products, fresh fruit from Darts Farm, Exmouth Town Football Club teaching the children football skills and Exmouth Town Council collating donations. (They have sufficient donation now thank you) There have been many others offers of help from many other groups and individuals too.  

Exmouth should be proud of its self.   

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