TODAY marks a huge milestone for a Chilmark-based disaster response charity who have now spent a year supporting the Covid-19 pandemic response across the country.

This time last year (March 27) RE:ACT deployed its first team of volunteers to build up a picture of the situation and what support was needed.

Over the last 12 months, it has been supporting the response across the country with welfare visits, helping at vaccination and test centres, delivering PPE and working in hospital mortuaries.

The charity has facilitated 109.1K vaccines and 43.7K tests, supported 21 test sites, delivered 10.1M PPE items and carried out 4.6K welfare checks. 

RE:ACT operations response manager Paul Taylor, pictured below, said: "It's been a long year. I would say it's been a great success for RE:ACT. For everybody there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccination programme, which there hasn't always been. There were times at Christmas or November where people were saying when are we going to get out of this but it certainly seems the vaccination programme is rolling out according to plan."

Salisbury Journal:

RE:ACT volunteers have supported efforts locally in Wiltshire supporting welfare checks as well as supporting vaccination centres like City Hall in Salisbury.

"The kind of things we had been doing for the last year have been food distribution tasks - we have distributed over three million meals - welfare tasks, PPE distribution and a big thing a lot of other organisations shied away from was supporting the temporary mortuaries," added Paul.

RE:ACT has also provided support to the NHS in hospitals - going into Covid wards and helping ease pressure on the frontline workers.

The support at vaccinations sites will continue.

Salisbury Journal:

It has been "challenging" for the small team of staff who have been working flat out throughout the pandemic.

Paul says the "scale" of the pandemic has been a challenge for the team together with the "enduring nature and having to do it for so long".

It is the longest ongoing operation for the charity as Paul explains: "Prior to Covid we were doing primarily international disaster response. For example we would go into Mozambique, the Bahamas and other places in the immediate aftermath of a disaster and stay for about six weeks. We did work in the UK but it was not on any great scale. This pandemic has flipped everything on its head."

Salisbury Journal:

A number of veterans answered the charity's call for help.

To all the volunteers, Paul said, "thank you", adding: "We really couldn't have done it without you. We just didn't have the capacity. We went beyond what trained responders we already had on our books and they answered the call. They stepped forward and served again. There are thousands of veterans out there who decided they wanted to help. We gave them an opportunity and we are very glad they accepted that and stepped forward to support us."

Salisbury Journal:

Paul says the charity was not very well-known in the UK unlike its presence internationally but this has changed significantly as a result of the pandemic.

It will be looking at ways in the future to build on its work in the UK and utilise more of its volunteers as well as how to return to its international operations.

"The role for us coming out of this could be, what they are talking about, is a national quick reaction force. Something happens and whatever it is and you need a lot of people to be mobilised in fairly short order we have got the mechanisms to do that from our headquarters and we have got the people that are willing to do that," said Paul.

This "quick response" was demonstrated back in February when a team of 30 volunteers from RE:ACT helped evacuate residents from their homes after an unexploded bomb was found in Exeter, Devon.

RE:ACT, formerly known as Team Rubicon UK, receives no government funding and relies on the generosity of the public to ensure it is able to continue its work.

For more information about RE:ACT go to

Get more Salisbury news and nominate your local heroes for the South Wiltshire Hero Awards.

You can also like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date.

Email with your comments, pictures, letters and news stories.