In March, after 4 years working on our CAER Heritage project, Kimberley Jones (right) took on a new role with ACE as our Macmillan Development Officer – exploring a community development response to death, dying and bereavement. Kimberley immediately contacted our partners at Macmillan and the South West Primary Care Cluster to shape a response to the crisis.
‘The first thing I did was go to the GPs and ask what they needed most,’ Kim says. ‘The pharmacies needed help getting prescriptions delivered to people shielding at home. With our fantastic volunteer drivers and van we were ready to respond quickly, and ACE started delivering prescriptions on April 1st.’
‘It’s been a busy start to the role,’ Kim explains. ‘In less than a month we set up 4 new projects to support patients and vulnerable community members across the cluster. The Kindness Cards initiative is a great way for local people to get involved in ACE’s response to Covid-19 and show their care for their neighbours, particularly those who can’t go outside at all due to age or health conditions. People make the cards and drop them at the Dusty Forge and we deliver them alongside food or prescriptions to people stuck at home. A bright image and kind message can go a long way to supporting neighbours who are feeling lonely, anxious or depressed.’
‘Back Home Boxes’ are made for patients returning home after being discharged from hospital, either to an empty house or to family members who are vulnerable. A few treats, tea and coffee and some key contact numbers can help ease the transition and ensure they continue to access support and feel connected at home. ‘Care Home Boxes’ bring much needed encouragement and treats to staff in local care homes, who are working in very tough conditions without the cards and gifts they would usually receive from visiting relatives.
Phone Friend is a new scheme matching isolated community members with volunteers and ACE staff based on their interests for weekly phone calls. Kim hopes that in the future these volunteers will go on to form a befriending service for people who are bereaved or dealing with a terminal illness.
‘I love the new job,’ says Kim. ‘Right now we can have a big positive impact through small actions. In the coming months, these connections will be vital as we develop our work around end of life care, making sure people have support and reducing stress as much as we can.’
If anyone would like to volunteer or suggest an idea, please email Kimberley at firstname.lastname@example.org.