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Banffshire community rallies round amid coronavirus threat

By Kyle Ritchie

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Volunteers are coming forward to assist vulnerable people in the Banffshire community affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Banff and District councillor Glen Reynolds and the town’s community and tourist hub have been the driving force behind the appeal, which aims to help people in the coming days, weeks and months who are self-isolating through diagnosis or as a precautionary measure.

The councillor posted on Facebook on Saturday he was willing to help anybody who needed assistance and since then has had a wealth of groups and people coming forward who are similarly keen to help anyone in need.

This saw the hub become involved to help coordinate the initiative.

People who can help others affected by the coronavirus outbreak can submit their details to the community and tourist hub at Banff's Low Street.
People who can help others affected by the coronavirus outbreak can submit their details to the community and tourist hub at Banff's Low Street.

Mr Reynolds said: “In light of the rapidly developing issue surrounding the virus, I felt the need to take action on behalf of the community I represent.

“With a possibility of people aged 70 and over being asked to self-isolate, I was concerned that an already vulnerable and sometimes lonely group of people were going to be made more isolated and for some, this could be a final straw.

“I knew there were many local groups and individuals out there in our community who were willing volunteers and what was needed was for action to be coordinated, connecting those who can do something with those who potentially or actually needed help.

“Once I put the post up online, the response was fantastic. People were contacting me offering to help and groups from the Portsoy Scouts to the new Banff tourist hub known as The Mercat in Low Street were, through me, establishing links with people in their area who were able and willing to carry out safe, secure and professionally-guided assistance to people in their streets and localities who were becoming desperate.

“At the heart of this is for everyone who can help, to be able to link up with others so that resources are best deployed and not duplicated, and that those in need are helped quickly in a safe, secure and professionally-guided manner. Nobody should put themselves or others at any increased risk.”

The post outlined what can be provided to vulnerable people in need which included picking up shopping or urgent supplies, posting mail, or even just a friendly phone call.

Mr Reynolds added: “I am also asking for local shops to keep in touch and communicate with me around stock levels and for those in the hospitality sector to come forward if they can offer free meals, which can then be distributed.

“I am simply the coordinator of information so that effective action takes place. Sometimes, simply speaking to someone at the end of a telephone or online, is what can really help.

“This is not about politics and is certainly not about point scoring. It is about being a responsive, caring community.”

The Banff community and tourist hub has just moved to its new base at 57 Low Street.

Michelle Cameron from the hub said: “When I saw that Glen would be willing to do things like help collect groceries for people it just seemed like the right thing to do.

“Every day I say hello to people I recognise in the street, but I don’t know their names or if they live alone. What if they need help and there’s nobody around? It’s horrible.

“The tourist hub is so accessible across from the town house and bus stop, it would be very easy for us to take details of anyone needing help or who wants to help, and we’ll make sure people are matched up so our neighbours won’t have to worry.”

Latest figures released by the Scottish Government show the number of people with the disease in Grampian has risen to 12. A total of 171 people across Scotland have now tested positive. Thirty-five people in the UK have died after contracting it.

NHS Grampian has the latest guidance on the Covid-19 virus at www.nhsgrampian.org

The outbreak has seen a number of public events cancelled in the area. Schools remain open at the moment.

People who can help out locally can contact Mr Reynolds by emailing cllr.g.reynolds@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or calling 07388956099. They can also visit the community and tourist hub where they can leave their details.

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