Your.Tod.Squad keep community safe during lockdown

A Todmorden volunteer group has gone above and beyond to ensure that vulnerable members of the community stay safe during isolation.

The ‘Your.Tod.Squad.’ group was started by Robin Varley. The 31-year-old moved to Todmorden five months ago, after leaving his role as a director of a tech company in London.

Your.Tod.Squad volunteers. Photo by Bruce Fitzgerald.

Your.Tod.Squad volunteers. Photo by Bruce Fitzgerald.

“I had a bit of spare time and wanted to help. I literally put one post on Facebook saying I could help people out and within a few days it grew into this massive group,” said Robin.

Your.Tod.Squad. was formed after over 70s and vulnerable people were told they may need to isolate for up to four months, due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak.

The group have been helping vulnerable members of the community with tasks such as picking up groceries and household essentials, deliveries, picking up medication, taking dogs for walks, as well as email pen pals and telephone calls to help tackle the loneliness during isolation.

The group is also working with an award winning chef to help produce affordable ready meals and food baskets and have plans to start a helpline for the community.

They match volunteers with people in need of assistance, using recommended, tried and tested safety precautions from third sector organisations, including a buddying system, ring in/ring out system, and there is no direct handling of money.

The group currently has over 40 volunteers and 500 members on the Facebook group.

“It’s the most uplifting thing to see people so happy to help others. What’s really great is that I haven’t had to take down a single post on the Facebook group. Everyone is being so supportive and it’s bringing out the best of people in our community,” said Robin.

As well as offering support from an online community, the group realise that not everyone has access to the internet and have been posting leaflets through doors, offering their to help anyone that needs help during isolation.

People from across the community, the fire department and even a nail salon agreed to print out 1500 leaflets for the group to post through letterboxes.

“We’re trying to do as much as we can to make sure everyone can access support. Some of the older people in our community might not have Facebook, so we’ve got a team posting leaflets through the door in a safe and distanced way. We’re also offering support via email and over the phone. We’re going for a blanket approach,” said Robin.

The group are looking for help from local printers to help them with their leaflets and with a red and green card scheme. The scheme allows residents to clearly display if they need any help. If they do not require any assistance, they can display a green card in their window. When they need help with something, they can place a red card in their window, allowing residents to access help whilst adhering to social distancing.

“We don’t know how long this is going to last and people need to work together and try to stay as calm as possible.

“I’m a huge believer in not suffering in silence and it’s so great to see the community working together to make sure everyone is safe and supported.

“Our phone line is always open, from anyone that just wants a chat, or is feeling lonely while self-isolating - through to people that need help with groceries or picking up medication.”

If you would like to volunteer or access help from the group email or call 07951 445348. Alternatively, you can join their online group by searching ‘Your.Tod.Squad’ on Facebook.

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