Team spirit pays off for Distington residents

volunteers wearing masks and gloves giving supplies out into the community.

The ‘friend not foe’ support group

Carl Hewer, Fire station manager at Sellafield explains how he and site colleagues, Mark Speight and Troy Armstrong, are being ‘friends not foe’, and are doing their bit.

The rugby club where we play, Distington Rugby League, set up their own support group ‘friend not foe’ to help support the elderly and vulnerable residents living in Distington and the surrounding areas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The idea was proposed by club chairman Mark Askew and was accepted with open arms by the playing team and staff, everyone wanted to do their bit.

Initially we set out to collect prescriptions and medication, shop for essentials and even just be a friendly face to say hello with the hope of tackling some of the loneliness during these uncertain times.

Volunteers outside delivering supplies to the community

We have worked closely with Distington surgery in order to co-ordinate with other initiatives, Ink Design Print Cumbria kindly donated leaflets to us so that we raise awareness of what we can do to help. These have been delivered to each household in Distington, Pica and Gilgarran. We also have a Facebook page where we post updates and people can message us.

Initially we got 60 phone calls from people registering they would need our help.

The service has brought a real community spirit which has had a wonderful response from some local businesses and residents.

Due to this response and from the time and effort of the group members we have been able to provide more support than we initially planned by providing donated foods, meals, gifts and even a bit of joy for the local kids who displayed the ‘support the NHS rainbows’ in their windows by receiving an Easter egg.

It’s been rewarding to work part of the group providing hope and a vital service to those that need it most during these horrendous times.

In just over 2 weeks since setting up the club has achieved the following:

  • Over 500 calls received
  • Over 200 direct Facebook messages received
  • Over 300 prescriptions collected
  • Distington RL donated 100 Easter eggs
  • McColls shop donated 60 Easter eggs
  • Tina Hewer run a raffle with the funds buying 80 Easter eggs
  • 240 Easter eggs delivered to children who displayed the ‘support the NHS rainbows’
  • Moorclose Community Centre has donated more than 250 bags of food to residents with help from food banks, Asda, Greggs and others
  • David Wood Bakery at Lillyhall kindly donated bread dough, scone mixes and ingredients which were baked by group members and delivered to residents (approx. 100 deliveries)
  • Adam Amor, a joiner working on the BEP project has baked over 50 loafs and 50 scones
  • Local residents have made soups and cakes for the vulnerable which were delivered by the group (approx. 100 deliveries)
  • Antony’s Chippy provided 40 free of charge prepared meals to those who requested through our group
A volunteer baker with a tray full of scones

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