THE response of the community to help those in need during the pandemic showed “Ringwood at its best”.

John Haywood, the founder of Ringwood Coronavirus Assistance (RCA), said he was “blown away” by the response from the community who came together to support residents in need by volunteering for the support group.

A Facebook group was started on March 15 last year and within ten days it had more than 3,000 members.

He added: “It was Ringwood at its best and people at their best. It was heartwarming to see.”

The group delivered its first prescription to a resident unable to collect it due to the pandemic on March 26. At the end of the first two weeks a core team was set up along with a website and 340 people had signed up to volunteer.

Over the next four months, 500 prescriptions were delivered; more than 450 shopping trips were completed and shopping delivered; all by a team of 40 volunteers for people in Ringwood and surrounding areas.

A further 110 volunteers staffed the phone lines from their own homes, pointing people towards shops and businesses that could deliver and taking bookings for the group’s voluntary services. Between them volunteers answered more than 180 hours of phone calls. RCA volunteers also delivered several hundred food parcels for Ringwood Foodbank.

During the subsequent lockdowns RCA stood down as support needs were met by other organisations.

Mayor Tony Ring said: "What we have seen and can be extremely proud of is the dedication and sheer hard work of all involved in care services for those in need, and the wonderful spirit and willingness to serve demonstrated by local individuals and organisations in providing support in all manner of ways.

"I hope and believe the appreciation of those who have cared and provided for us and the spirit of community cohesion created by so many voluntary actions will live on indefinitely to the benefit of our whole society. Let us all now look forward to a brighter future.”

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