In discussion with Caroline Drummond this morning, one of the founders of Rye Mutual Aid (RYEMAG), it is obvious how vital their service is proving to be, how well organised it is, and how the community spirit in Rye has far exceeded all expectations.
In terms of numbers their Facebook group has 865 members, not all volunteers as some are purely needing support, and a staggering 514 people completed the volunteer survey.
The 500 or so volunteers have been split across the 20 areas covered, and each area has two or three dispatchers who take the calls from residents, filter the requests, and pass accepted requests to the volunteers in their local area.
Volunteer training and safety are areas being taken very seriously, and the NHS guidelines suggest the following for volunteers – keep hair tied back, roll up sleeves, strict indoor and outdoor clothing policy, air clothing and footwear in sun and/or rotate items (48 hours is safe),and practice not touching your face, which includes stroking beards and fiddling with glasses when out.
A Zoom meeting was organised for last night (Thursday 26) for all available volunteers and the planned speakers included Mary Starling (a volunteer herself) who holds a masters degree in science in public health and disease control and has worked for WHO (World Health Organisation) and will be offering her advice and guidance.
She will also review the health and safety approach and keep a central record and diary for RYEMAG. It is likely RYEMAG will adopt either the WHO or NHS protocol and will ensure that volunteers will receive appropriate training as soon as is practicably possible. These updates will be shared on the volunteer information page in the next two days.
Volunteers skills are varied, some are trained counsellors. Dispatchers have been able to keep a central record of those with symptoms whilst visiting, but no medical advice can be given as they are not qualified – but they are able to reinforce messages received from the government. They are also able to track all requests and, by analysing this data, the organisers are able to inform the authorities of any changes/ trends they need to be aware of in order to adapt their response to the crisis.
Shops and businesses in Rye and the local area have been very positive with various schemes including payment over the phone, home deliveries from supermarkets, from restaurants etc. All this information is available on https://www.ryemutualaid.org/local-offers. We are all encouraged to use home delivery services for our shopping wherever possible to save going into shops and avoid taking unnecessary risks.
You can see how the volunteer operation is working by going onto https://www.ryemutualaid.org/how-we-work for further information.
RYEMAG is organised by Caroline Drummond and Jen Sinclair who are also very grateful to Anthony Kimber whose daily help and support has enabled the whole operation to get off the ground. Daily discussions involve updates with local partners e.g. supermarkets, Boots, local charities including the food bank and various other organisations – teamwork and community support at its best.
Image Credits: Rye Mutual Aid .