Standish Coronavirus Help has been wound down

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Standish’s Coronavirus support scheme, which has helped vulnerable people isolating in their homes for the past 18 months, has been wound down.

Standish Coronavirus Help (SCH) was running since the first weekend of the lockdown when Standish Voice and the village’s three councillors – Adam Marsh, Debbie Parkinson and Ray Whittingham – formed the organisation to support those who did not want to leave their homes due to being severely at risk from COVID-19.

The group quickly assembled an army of volunteers from across Standish – with around 140 signed up to help their neighbours –and ran a successful crowdfunder campaign which, combined with a grant from Wigan Council, paid for the running of the scheme.

During the year and a half, hundreds of shopping payments have gone through SCH’s books and many other small acts of kindness have been arranged, from medicine pick-ups and drop-offs, helpers calling round just for a chat with those who could not leave their homes, and tradesmen being arranged for work to be carried out – sometimes free of charge.

SCH also arranged for the people it looked after to receive gifts of tulips in spring and poinsettias at Christmas and organised a festive hot meal for them in a partnership with a local pub. Food parcels were also sent round at the start of the pandemic and a 24-hour, 7 day a week helpline – manned free of charge by Standish company SMARTstrat – was set up so people could ring with problems.

The last people being helped through the scheme have now organised shopping to be dropped off in private arrangements, but the group stresses that it can restart its activities if lockdowns are ordered again.

A spokesman said: “Standish Coronavirus Help has been a hugely successful operation, with many hundreds of shopping trips being carried out for the vulnerable in our village and delivered by kind-hearted people in their community.

“We have had a rollercoaster ride organising it with highs of the wonderful feedback from those we have helped to the despair of having some of those people pass away during that time.“The scheme has been something positive and uplifting out of a situation that was obviously terribly depressing and challenging for everyone.

“We would like to thank the many volunteers across Standish – some of whom were not called upon – who came forward to help those in need.

We are incredibly grateful, too, to SMARTstrat, which has operated the helpline at its own expense for a year and a half – it was a lifeline to many people.

“Lots of people have been involved in organising the support group but it was successfully led by Councillor Adam Marsh and Standish Voice Treasurer Karen Bliss must be thanked for processing hundreds of payments which went from those we helped, through us and on to the volunteers for shopping trips – which kept everyone safe from anything untoward.

“Standish Coronavirus Help has been wound down but can spring back up again if needed in the future – and many of the friendships built up across the community will last for a lifetime.”