Helping Hands at Christmas

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Grassroots volunteer group Thorpe Helping Hands has delivered 35 festive hampers to families in need across the Thorpe St Andrew and Thorpe Hamlet areas, thanks to kind donations and support from residents. 

The group was set up in April as a response to the Covid-19 crisis and has continued to support those in need, with deliveries of food parcels, ‘check-and-chat’ calls to those who are lonely or isolating, and running errands. 

Co-ordinating Christmas 

In the run-up to Christmas, the group put out a plea which immediately resulted in generous donations of festive food, seasonal treats, toys and cash. Members of the committee co-ordinated the collection of donations and arranged for the festive hampers and shopping vouchers to be delivered to those who might otherwise have very little seasonal cheer at Christmas. There are also gifts and cards being delivered to folk who have been receiving regular chatty phone calls from volunteers since the first lockdown in spring. 

Members of the Thorpe Helping Hands committee who have managed the collections, gift-wrapping and hamper distribution include Sweena Mattam and Fiona Samson.  

“We have been delighted with the wonderful response from residents and we’ve been very busy since we launched our appeal on our Facebook group on 27th November. We actually collected more toys and games than we originally needed so we have been able to increase the number of hampers that we have put together."

All the work with festive hampers has been running alongside the regular volunteer jobs carried out by Thorpe Helping Hands – such as ensuring food is delivered to residents in need and making regular ‘check-and-chat’ calls. 

Committee treasurer Inga Kenny commented: “It’s been a very busy few weeks for the committee and our volunteers, as the second lockdown meant that even more people needed our help. With Christmas approaching, we were keen that as many people as possible were supported and felt they were not being forgotten.”  

Valuable support has also come from Pilling Park Community Centre’s manager, Guido Baldassarre, and caretaker Ray Dyker. The centre is the group’s food hub base and each week, Guido and Ray help the volunteers to put together food hampers to deliver to those in need. 

Inga added: “Unfortunately, many residents in Thorpe St Andrew and Thorpe Hamlet areas have been seriously affected by this Covid-19 pandemic, so the need for volunteer groups like ours remains. We have been heartened by the rapid response to our Christmas appeal from residents who have been so thoughtful and helpful. We have built up a reliable bank of volunteers who leap into action whenever someone asks us to collect a prescription or run an errand – and our services will continue into the new year and beyond.” 

If you want to volunteer for Thorpe Helping Hands, or know someone who could benefit from support from the group, please email thorpehelpinghands@gmail.com or phone their freephone number on 01622 370 527. They also have a Facebook page here.  

This is part of a series of short examples of the huge contribution made by local VCSE organisations in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. To understand more about the pivotal role played by Voluntary and Social Enterprise organisations in Norfolk’s Covid-19 response effort please read our Norfolk VCSE Covid-19 Story page. And you can read more about CAN’s Good Neighbour Schemes here.