Over 800 volunteers for sewing. Nearly 2,000 ‘Flu Friends’. Hundreds helping on Facebook groups in Falmouth and Penryn. Cornish people have come together to help their neighbours during the coronavirus pandemic, with some charities already stating they are at their full volunteer capacity.

Volunteer Cornwall, a charity coordinating individuals and organisations across the county, have created the largest coronavirus response team, called Flu Friends. 

Ali Bowser, Health and Wellbeing Officer at Volunteer Cornwall, said: “Most of the calls we are getting are from people who are worried about food and shopping and they can’t get out. 

“That’s a classic example: when you go shopping for your own stuff you get it for somebody else as well, and then you drop it at their door. We have to find a way to make it work!”

Flu Friends can deliver groceries, pick up medical prescriptions and even walk dogs.

“People are so worried and, if nothing else, we are able to offer them a bit of reassurance because they are so alone.”

Mrs Bowser added that Volunteer Cornwall is planning on extending its services: “We are kick-starting a dedicated telephone befriending service so that we can get people talking to each other. 

“People are so worried and, if nothing else, we are able to offer them a bit of reassurance because they are so alone.”

This centralised initiative is not the only one providing help. Tallulah Parkyn and Charlotte Higgins from Falmouth Food Coop decided to bulk-cook and deliver meals, catering for all dietary requirements.

Ms Parkyn said: “Anyone can sign up for food, there’s a form on our website.

“Every package will come with detailed instructions of ingredients and what is included in the meal and also how people [can] heat it up for themselves to keep everything safe and hygienic.”

Stones Bakery now delivers freshly baked bread and basic groceries (including doughnuts and biscuits!) for free, not only to Falmouth and Penryn but also to Flushing, Mawnan Smith, Mabe and Budock Water. 

Many small local businesses decided to stay open and deliver take aways and other products, such as vegetable boxes and free range eggs. For a full list of open takeaways, local shops and supermarkets check Greenway Interactive page.

Free meals for NHS staff across Cornwall have been co-arranged by local street food traders. Bradley Snowden, owner of Indian street food Atta., gathered a team of five chefs to cook for NHS staff in hospitals in Falmouth, Redruth and Helson. 

He explained: “We are working in a rotation so they [NHS workers] get a variety each day.

“They seem to enjoy the fact they are getting treated to a lunch, it really seems to pick up their spirit, which is the whole point of the scheme.”

Dish Cornwall, a food experience company run by Mark Devonshire and David Vazda, cooked for Falmouth Hospital last Wednesday. Mr Devonshire said he was thankful for the opportunity to give something back as part of his family worked for the NHS.

 “It was so humbling, I felt quite emotional,” he admitted, describing his first day at Falmouth Hospital.

“There were so many people coming and thanking us for food, it was a nice rewarding experience.”

From spring weddings to supporting the NHS, we have it covered.We are not super heroes we are a team who keeps on…

Posted by Dish Cornwall on Tuesday, 31 March 2020

But it’s not all about food. Due to the shortage of protective gear such as hospital scrubs and masks, people are urged to help either by sewing or delivering.  

“The GPs are crying out for scrubs as well as the community teams and the healthcare workers.”

“The GPs are crying out for scrubs as well as the community teams and the healthcare workers,” said Annie Lucas, who is in charge of all scrub making efforts in Cornwall.

Cornwall Scrubs coordinates scrub making efforts across the county (credit: Cornwall Scrubs)

Mrs Lucas added the Cornwall Scrubs group has a variety of jobs available: “We are looking for people who can sew and assemble garments, so at a reasonable level of dressmaking skill, but we’re also looking for people who can help with pre-washing a fabric, distribution of sewing patterns or collecting and delivering scrubs to people who requested them.”

The group is also seeking businesses willing to help with laser cutting, ironing and pre-washing in large quantities. Vets and dentists are advised to donated their old and currently unused scrubs too.

If you need help yourself, please contact Volunteer Cornwall at 01872 266988 or message any of the support groups on Facebook, such as Covid 19 Mutual Aid and Solidarity Group.