A MASSIVE community effort is building up to support the county's most vulnerable through the coronavirus crisis.

Neighbourhood groups are springing up across the area, and thousands of volunteers have come forward to offer help.

The Hereford Times is highlighting their efforts through our #HerefordshireTogether campaign.

Grocery deliveries for the isolated and vulnerable have already started, and next week food parcels for those on low incomes should begin to be handed out.

Businesses have waded in with money and organisational skills, while across the county people are befriending neighbours and strangers as the message gets out: "Together, we will get through this."

One of the first community groups to get active was Ross-on-Wye, where the first grocery deliveriees were made to 12 houses in the town on Wednesday, but more were planned for Friday as orders increased.

It is estimated that around 4,000 or the 11,000 people in the town could fall into the vulnerable category, either through age or underlying health conditions.

The Ross Community Development Trust already has more than 200 volunteers and has managed to spring into action so quickly because the town was already developing a Good Neighbour scheme.

It was the brain child of the Mayor, Jane Roberts, and was due to be officially launched in April.

A great deal of work had gone into organizing it, so when the coronavirus crisis came along it was pretty much ready to take on the challenge.

But the Ross CDT group has also had enormous support from a host of other organisations in the town.

Based at the Baptist Church, it has groceries supplied by the Spar store, and help from the Lions, Rotary, Age Concern and local businesses.

The building they are using at the church has been cleared out and donated fridges and new IT equipment installed.

“The community response has been phenomenal,” said a grateful Jane.

The group has three main aims to support the vulnerable during isolation:

  • Befriending
  • Delivery of groceries or medicines
  • Help with looking after pets

But Jane says it is also really important that people get the chance to volunteer to help.

The scheme covers the town and the outlying parishes of Brampton Abbots and Foy; Bridstow; and Upton Bishop.

Of the population of Ross, 35% are aged above 65.

To volunteer, donate or look for support, visit the website at https://www.rosscdt.org.uk Ring 01763 802046 or email: help@rosscdt.org.uk

The City of Hereford Rotary Club is working to support people during the pandemic.

The Club initially established a Face Book page to provide both national and local information regarding the Covid-19 pandemic to reassure people that help is available.

Within 10 days there were 6,000 members and the page provides an active forum for people to share all the good work that is taking place and also help each on an individual basis. The club say they have been totally overwhelmed by the response and are most grateful.

"There have been many instances where someone has been self isolating and posted they are in need of something only to find a little while later it is on their doorstep. These are real examples of true kindness, with often the donor not leaving a name."

Members of the Club have also been working with the Talk Community Team at Herefordshire Council and hvoss (Hereforshire Voluntary Organisations Support Service).

The club has also had 10,000 cards printed that people can put through the door of their neighbours offering to keep in touch during the current crisis.

The club is also working with hvoss to support local groups and charities and considering how they can help very vulnerable families.

Find the Hereford Rotary Covid-19 Volunteers at www.facebook.com/groups/195399895095561.

Herefordshire Council have also put out a call for volunteers, and so far more than 1,000 people have registered on its website.

While supermarket shelves are stripped bare amidst the panic, shops serving their local communities, sometimes with the help of volunteers, are pulling out the stops to ensure residents don't go without food or a sense of connectedness.

Three among many examples are Pontrilas Post Office, Ewyas Harold Village Store and Hopes of Longtown.

In Pontrilas a delivery service will ensure that essential food supplies reach everyone - bread, sugar, coffee, tea and fresh vegetables - and they are also providing hot meals as deliveries.

"We are making individual pots which will last for two or three days - beef or chicken stews with potatoes and vegetables," explains Sonia Cary, director of Care Herefordshire, which provides these services out to its communities from Pontrilas.

Currently, they have been delivering to people in Pandy and as far as Allensmore.

They will also pick up and deliver prescriptions, and are compiling a 'telephone buddy' list.

"We are doing what we can to ensure that people feel valued and loved and know that we are in it together," says Sonia.

"At the moment, we have a good action plan that's working exceptionally well.

"It's absolutely heartwarming to see how people have rallied together to ensure that needs are being met."

Contact Pontrilas Post Office on 01981 240235.

Also in the Golden Valley, the village shop is delivering groceries "to anyone and everyone" three times a week.

They're also set up a newspaper delivery round within the village confines, and are, says owner Bennie Krige, "trying to keep our shelves full."

"Quite a few people have volunteered, though we haven't needed any of them yet.

"At the moment we are managing well ourselves, and all our staff are fit and well but if one of them does go off, the challenge will be keeping the tills manned.

"If everyone does their bit, we will beat this thing, but if people are oblivious and selfish, we won't," he adds.

In Ewyas Harold, butchers Mailes and Neil Powell are also offering a delivery service.

"We are in the fortunate position of having a short and trusted local supply chain, this means that we can meet demand as required, and keep our shops fully stocked with the vital provision of nutrient dense food!" says Ben Powell at Neil Powell.

"We are offering free local delivery throughout Herefordshire and Monmouth. Orders@neilpowell.co.uk or call 01981 240000."

In Longtown, Hopes have also introduced a delivery service, taking live orders by phone and delivering later in the day.

"We have about 10 volunteers," says Christine Hope, "and last week we met with a couple of other people and set up the Ewyas Lacy group, which has 12 volunteers and they will be able to help local residents with any problems they have."

Christine adds that they will also do their very best to meet any special dietary needs."

In terms of where they will deliver to, Christine says "we haven't put any specifics on it. We are just doing a delivery service. The priority is to make sure everyone is calm, fed and looked after."

The Foodbank in Hereford has been ramping up its service, and has been helped by the Green Dragon Hotel, which is is donating perishable foods.

Hereford is one of few Foodbanks across the country which accepts perishables.