Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Coronavirus: Volunteer group making a genuine difference to those in need

The group has organised the making and distribution of 13,500 free meals

In just three weeks, thousands of people have signed up to volunteer with an islandwide group that is offering help and support to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lockdown measures limiting residents to one essential trip a day to buy food or medicine have left many unable to do so for themselves especially if they belong to vulnerable groups that are particularly susceptible to the virus.

Among the numerous volunteer groups set up to help others is Cyprus Helpers Covid-19.

Formed by Derek Holt, an ex-British army bomb disposal and senior safety manager,living in Paphos, the group already has more than two thousand volunteers, and numbers are growing daily, he told the Cyprus Mail.

“Only by working together we can we lessen the impact of this situation. I am proud of the response and generosity that I have seen,” he said.

In the short time since they were established, the group has partnered with establishments who have made in excess of 13,500 free meals and/or food boxes which have been delivered around Cyprus.

“In collaboration with our friends at Friendship Circle, Chalkies Kitchen, Frydays and Magic Bowl, between us, we have prepared and delivered approximately 13,500+ meals and, or food boxes to those in need. That is around 550 per day average,” he said.

Organisations and businesses are providing the group with supplies, and they are now also cooperating with local municipalities, including Paphos municipality, to help them meet requests for help that they receive.

Holt realised that social media was awash with those wanting to help and decided to set up a group as a focal point. The group is able to match requests for help, with offers to help swiftly, he said.

“As a volunteer group we ask for donations of food and supplies which can be dropped off at collection points, these are on our group pages. We have also introduced a new initiative where supermarket bonus points can be donated and added to a central number so that we can use them to purchase food and other essentials for those in need,“ he said.

The group organise the delivery of food and other supplies

Volunteers offer all sorts of help such as dog walking, shopping, picking up prescriptions, local transport, and lending a caring ear for those who wish to talk or are lonely.

“We have volunteer helpers collecting and making deliveries, packing food boxes and even making masks.”

Holt recounted some of the hundreds of instances that the group has been able to help so far.

An urgent request to pick up medication for an elderly person desperately in need was made to the group and within minutes of receiving it, one of the volunteer motorbike couriers, Paul Carter, whose wife Elle is also making face masks, was dispatched.

The comment from the grateful family posted to the group’s Facebook page reads :

“Dad’s infection has been ‘nipped in the bud’ because of this site and the immediate help we got. This prevented the infection going to his brain. If he had not got this medication yesterday, I’m sure he would have ended up in hospital, disorientated, confused and worse still, alone.

“This one little bit of help has done so much more. It’s saved €1000s, a hospital bed, nurses and doctors’ time, and could have saved his life. Thank you once again for this immediate response.”

“What is so inspirational and makes it all worthwhile are the smiles on people’s faces when they receive aid and the warm feeling everyone in the group gets when we receive the wonderful messages of thanks,” Holt said.

Motorbike couriers are used to deliver urgently needed medication

Another request was to deliver a much needed phone and other essentials to a patient who had been transferred alone from Paphos to Limassol hospital, he said.

A grateful response was again made to the group.

A number of young families struggling financially and in need of food have also been in touch, as well as concerned relatives in the UK unable to get in contact with their Cyprus based elderly relatives. The requests were carried out swiftly with positive outcomes, he said.

Each district has a volunteer coordinator. Tracy Bailey, the coordinator for Paphos, is appealing for food:

“We are running out and there are so many in need. We collect at Phillipos supermarket in Peyia and others.”

Supporters may private message the group to find out how to donate. All sorts of food items are needed including tinned and packaged goods.

Holt added that the group’s success is thanks to the willingness of the public to help.

“Team work is everything, and if you need help or can volunteer to help then please join the Cyprus Helpers Covid-19 group where you can contact the administration or coordinators (in private) to make your request or offers.”

All volunteers follow the latest social distancing and protection measures.

 

Cyprus Helpers Covid-19 on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/214995156529838/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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