Stevenage community pulls together with online support group amid coronavirus crisis
PUBLISHED: 13:36 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:36 16 March 2020
An online forum to connect people in Stevenage has been set up in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus.
The support page has been set up by Bedwell Labour councillor Lizzy Kelly, and has reached 4,500 members in less than a week.
With 32 confirmed cases in Hertfordshire at the time of writing - and at least two of these in Stevenage - many people are getting increasingly worried about accessing essential supplies such as food, medicine, and toiletries.
This fear has led to people stockpiling such goods and leaving many people unable to buy even regular weekly groceries.
The Facebook group called 'Stevenage Covid-19 Mutual Aid' was set up for all Stevenage residents to request and offer help.
For example, if members are short on supplies or need errands to be run on their behalf - especially those who are elderly, vulnerable, or have a disability - help can be requested on the group.
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The group grew to more than 800 members within 24 hours, and has since grown to more than 4,700 members.
Lizzy Kelly said: 'People are already reaching out to one another, demonstrating fantastic community spirit at this time of crisis.
'There have also been suggestions to link up with current projects and organisations such as People for People, Feed Up Warm Up, and Stevenage Community Foodbank, to make sure support is accessible to everyone in Stevenage who needs it.
'It's really important that we protect the health of the entire community, and that may mean supporting those who have been medically advised to self-isolate, as well as look after people who are already sick.
'If people are unable to access physically or due to financial hardship, they are more likely to put themselves and others at risk, unless a support network is available to them.
'This crisis requires a community response and it's been really heartening to see people coming together so selflessly.
'I invite all people in Stevenage to join the group, and make contact with your neighbours, friends and families to ensure they know there is support available to them.'
To join the group, search 'Stevenage Covid-19 Mutual Aid' on Facebook.