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Every neighbour helps

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As a part-time Tesco delivery driver, Alex Hanford has found himself escalated to key worker status during the current crisis. And, having only recently moved to South Woodford, has found a community that cares

So much seems to have changed in the last few weeks, and my first thought has to be how inspired I am by the NHS and all the health and care workers who have faced up to this crisis first hand. Things that went on in the background are now at the forefront of our minds.

On a personal level, I have been thrilled to see the groundswell of support generated in our local community. Having only lived in South Woodford for just over a year, I have very few local connections, so the opportunity to reach out online to offer help and engage with neighbours we had never met was invaluable!

My partner and I were put in touch with a lady living in New York, who was concerned about her mum living just over the road from us, and we have been able to help her on a number of occasions, by shopping for essentials and getting to know her (from two metres away, of course!).

As a car owner, I wanted to do what I could to support the NHS, so I registered as a volunteer with them and have already carried out my first couple of assignments for the Redbridge Wellbeing Service, delivering food parcels and collecting prescriptions for local residents.

As my regular role in Central London delivering transport services is now mainly based from home, I have seen my part-time job as a Tesco delivery driver escalate from pocket money for a new car to a key worker role as well! Our whole team in Enfield Customer Fulfilment Centre has been flat-out for weeks, busier than Christmas for weeks on end, with no planning or build-up, keeping shopping moving and vulnerable customers’ supplies delivered.

One of the most touching things for me personally has been the response from Tesco customers; from a young mum with serious underlying health issues who was frankly terrified during the first days of the lockdown, to another lady who had just lost her brother-in-law to COVID-19 and was still thanking me for just doing my job.

As I can’t be with my own mum in Buckinghamshire, or our family in Yorkshire or Cornwall, it really does help me to think that there are other people doing exactly what I have seen in South Woodford, going above and beyond to provide that support and essential services to people around them in need.

It appears we will have to adjust the way we live for some months as society comes to terms with this illness. My hope is that we can continue with some of these adjustments in the longer term, and keep the friendships we are forming under such trying circumstances going as times improve and people feel safer and more secure in themselves.

For more information about how you can help your neighbours during these difficult times, visit swvg.co.uk/help
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