VOLUNTEERS in Bicester are still delivering prescriptions and groceries to people's homes 11 months after the pandemic began.

It started in March after Cat Carter, from Upper Heyford, set up a Facebook group called Coronavirus Helpers and Supporters to orchestrate a way to help those who were anxious about going out and those who needed to isolate or shield.

Despite Ms Carter being new to the area, she created leaflets which she delivered with others to people's homes so that the elderly and those who do not use social media could be informed and supported.

Others, including Stephanie Wright, Kat Harman, Craig Forrest and Singrid MacDonald, joined the group as admins and it quickly grew.

Residents volunteered to help spread the word and now the group on Facebook has more than 3,000 members which consist of volunteers and people in need of support.

Ms Carter and her small delivery team have been receiving prescription and food shopping requests for the past 11 months.

She said: "It's been pretty incredible, so many joined to volunteer to help. I made our third leaflet recently and more than 60 people delivered it all over Bicester and I set up a group of drivers to respond to the requests me and Kat get via our own personal landlines and mobiles.

"We have had requests for prescriptions that I pass over and it's delivered within 20 minutes. It's absolutely amazing."

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When the third lockdown was announced at the end of last year, almost 70 volunteers delivered leaflets to 13,390 homes in Bicester covering 390 roads by January 19.

Bicester resident Debz Ann Herring says the group has united the community.

She said:"It's definitely brought the community together and people have gone the extra mile to help others whether its been doing their shopping or local markets going out of their way to deliver fruit and veg to those who cannot visit them to buy their produce and people making time to talk to those who maybe struggling mentally and just need a friend to talk to."

Another resident commented on the Facebook group: "Your leaflet is pinned on our notice board and we were only last night talking about how wonderful this all is particularly as we know so many more who are ill or isolating this time round.

"Well done everyone and thank you. We’ve not needed to ask for help but it could quite literally be anyone at the moment that finds themselves stuck."

The group's support is not just for practical help but to make sure that people have someone to talk to in times of isolation and heightened anxiety.

Ms Carter added: "I’ve personally not lived in Bicester and had to pretty much educate myself of areas in the first lockdown to get the first round of leaflets out.

"The whole idea was to connect to everyone in Bicester without social media. The leaflets cost a lot to produce and I've been lucky to have the public's help to fund this.

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"The last 15,000 leaflets were paid for by Sundeep Singh. Kat and I have been receiving many requests and our wonderful delivery team has been super speedy at getting prescriptions and food shopping for the local community.

"The majority of which do not have Facebook and for many not even a smart phone or computer to access the Internet, which goes to show how important our leaflets have been for people isolating, shielding or just struggling with it all."

If you live in Bicester and need help, email cvsbicester@gmail.com.

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