In Wotton (an area which includes around 10,000 people), a community group called Wotton Area Mutual Aid (WAMA) was set up very early on in the Coronavirus crisis by a number of concerned individuals and caring charities in the community.
In this article, Wotton Baptist Church’s minister Tom Wharin tells us more about how the community there is working together to help those who are struggling most at this time:
WAMA now has a dedicated phone line and online help request system where people can ask for help with food shopping (including a cashless payment system arranged through the local co-op), collection of prescriptions or just a friendly chat.
WBC members got involved with various aspects of the project including manning the phone, delivering food and collecting prescriptions.
As WAMA has developed, a free soup delivery service has been added – a local chef produces soups from supermarket donated food and pub leftovers which is stored at and distributed from WBC to anyone in need in the community – the soups are ordered through the church go to stressed families, busy keyworkers, elderly folks and anyone who wants cheering up. Soups go out at a rate of about 80 portions per week.
In the last week WAMA have added free grocery boxes purchased with grants from various charities including WBC and church members have joined with other people in the community to sign up to distribute these to folk who are running short of money. They gave away 30x£30 grocery boxes in the trial week.
WAMA are working closely with the Wotton foodbank (based at WBC) and will be distributing Wotton Debt Advice Centre publicity with the food boxes – we think this is likely to become an increasing area of need.
Individuals in the church are engaged in all kinds of front-line work in the NHS, manufacturing ventilator parts, growing food and teaching key workers’ kids and keeping businesses ticking over. We’re gathering updates and praying for them all in our zoom services. Wotton is a pretty spacious place to live. We’re on the look-out for ways to partner with people in the UK and overseas who will be far worse effected than us.