Guide East Devon residents Coronavirus update - 15 May 2020

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8. Honiton Coronavirus Volunteer Support Network

The second message comes from the Honiton’s Coronavirus Support Network which is made up of existing organisations and new groups, all working together and supporting each other to support their community.

Honiton Hospital & Community League of Friends Chairperson, Heather Penwarden, invited a wide variety of voluntary organisations, healthcare providers, businesses and others to a meeting at the Beehive arts centre, when meetings were still possible! They discussed and agreed how they could work together to support their community and have been doing an amazing job of it ever since under the banner of “Be Strong, Be Kind, Be Safe”.

They set up a central helpline on 01404 384050, from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, run by Beehive Volunteers.  They’ve dealt with hundreds of calls ranging from distant relatives trying to ensure there is support for their loved ones to local people on their own or self-isolating elderly couples wanting to have help with simple tasks like shopping, dog walking, collection of medicines, repairing broken spectacles, where to get books, shop opening hours, what to do if your car has broken down, how to get their landline repaired, who to speak to about Universal Credit/benefit support etc.

Some of the things happening in the Honiton Coronavirus Volunteer Support Network:

  • Trip Community Transport expanded on what they were already doing to take a key role in many of the activities listed below.
  • Arranging for volunteers to shop for the vulnerable and those self-isolating. They then deliver this shopping to the door.
  • Developing and maintaining a secure 24/7 database for people that need help and people that want to volunteer.
  • Brief intervention and welfare checks with callers, passing them onto other organisations if needed.
  • Taking hot and frozen meals to vulnerable people in the area. The meals are made by St Michael’s 55+ Day Centre and the Random Kitchen, a new group, who are based at the Rugby Club.
  • Free delivery service for local shops & Cafés – both to support the community and to make sure the shops are here after.
  • Training and co-ordinating volunteers to call vulnerable and socially isolated people on the phone to check in and chat to them.
  • Vetting volunteers and providing them with ID cards.
  • Booking transport to critical medical appointments.
  • Arranging for disability aids for people needed.
  • Honiton Food Bank are supplying non-perishable food to those who have no food and no money to buy food. Honiton Round Table are collecting donations for the food bank, and delivering the food parcels.
  • The Honiton Area Neighbourhood Coronavirus Support network offers residents the opportunity to join a neighbourhood WhatsApp group or a phone tree to keep them in touch with people in their neighbourhood.
  • Parent+ Support Hub and the Honiton Coronavirus Mental Health Support Network have access to professionals who can provide mental health support and can put you in touch with other services that can help. They’re also running small online groups, where people struggling with similar issues can support each other.
  • Devon Freewheelers are delivering medication and Coronavirus test kits to people who are self-isolating. They also continuing to support Honiton Surgery, Honiton Hospital, Honiton Dialysis Unit and Hospiscare, but now 24/7 rather than just out of hours.
  • Honiton Health Matters are finding and applying for grants for the various groups involved in Honiton’s Coronavirus efforts. They’ve also added Coronavirus information to their website,, along with details of how people can volunteer or get support in Honiton.
  • Honiton Carers Support Group, Honiton Memory Café, Open Arms East Devon – Mental Health Wellness Honiton and Honiton 55+ Centre are regularly calling their users to make sure they’re ok, and to signpost them to the right people if they need support.

Honiton Hospital & Community League of Friends Chairperson, Heather Penwarden said

We are aware that there are many groups and individuals throughout the community all working hard to support those in need, from friends and neighbours through to the Scouts and Guides, to WI’s, Library reading Groups, hobby groups, entertainers, schools all the sports clubs and many more.

In these unprecedented times the networks of care and friendship go out far and wide with the Honiton Coronavirus Volunteer Support Network working to link everyone together, identify any gaps in provision and plan ahead to ensure that we are all cared for and supported for as long as it takes to get us safely through and to the other side of these challenging times and beyond.