From prescription deliveries to just offering conversation, following the success of a volunteer support scheme set up during the first coronavirus lockdown, Gillingham Medical Practice has set up a new group to continue this service.

‘Gillingham Community Kindness’ will be providing voluntary support to those who are self-isolating.

Set up in the wake of Covid-19 and the second national lockdown, this scheme at present will be primarily supporting individuals and families through the pandemic, but the group aims to be a new and permanent service for the town.

Inspired by the former initiative ran by the town council, made up of around 100 volunteers assisting vulnerable residents, the practice’s social prescribing and wellbeing lead Keith Harrison said this service “had to continue”.

He said: “When we first had the lockdown [the practice] quickly linked with volunteers so people could have that access to practical and emotional support.

“When that eased off we realised that it had to continue as we know there are still people in need of that support.

“While we provide clinical care there are non-clinical needs affecting health and wellbeing and we need to be helpful and stay connected to the community during this time.”

Mr Harrison said the newly launched initiative would not be in place without the impact of Covid-19, describing this as the “one silver lining” of the pandemic.

He added: “The practice was recognising that there are people struggling with isolation, and so much is to be gained having this strong relationship with the local community and talking to each other.

“We can’t offer prescriptions through this but [Gillingham Community Kindness] is a group to refer to, we’re willing to help and have a chat, offering that direct contact [and] giving that community support.

“This kind of service isn’t new - the community was already filled with projects and outreach work - this was the right time for us to formally establish staying in place for the long term, to connect the practice with those without appropriate support or met needs.”

The initiative is made up of volunteers, managed by the practice, combining those who helped during the first lockdown and newcomers.

To contact Gillingham Community Kindness call 01747 859202.