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Meeting community needs at a time of crisis

Apr 8, 2020 | NFSP

NFSP

NFSP members across the country, perhaps now more than ever, are proving their value to their local communities.

As vulnerable shoppers and local communities are increasingly cut off by the strict requirements to limit the movement of people and subsequent spread of the coronavirus, subpostmasters have rallied to the aid of these communities – often highlighting services they had already offered.

One such branch is Pontrilas Post Office in Herefordshire, which is offering free home delivery on groceries – a service that is part of a wider package of social support.

Promoting its home deliveries on the branch’s Facebook page, subpostmaster Sonya Cary wrote: “Should you need any small items – bread, milk, fresh veg or a hot meal – we can assist you.

“These are unprecedented times and we must think, listen and respond accordingly, and behave sensibly in traditional British fashion.”

Since 2014, the branch has been part of the CARE community interest company, which was set up to combat social isolation and support the vulnerable and those in ill health. CARE also offers a dementia-friendly café and community gym.

“It has been a very successful social enterprise,” Sonya, a founding director of CARE, said. “We are a real community hub. Some subpostmasters might forget how important we are in our community – it doesn’t matter whether you are in a city, town or rural area, you are at the heart of the community.”

A team of volunteers ensures grocery deliveries reach customers who most need them, in addition to providing hot meals and a telephone buddy service. “Everyone has rallied around,” said Sonya. “When we are facing such a crisis, it is amazing how the different villages locally have come together and we are networking between different village groups. It’s a case of when the chips are down, you need someone there who will deal with it and not panic.”

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