Kew Neighbourhood Association has been helping neighbours help neighbours for over 40 years. Many of the small charity’s volunteers, who would ordinarily be helping older and vulnerable people in our community to attend social and medical appointments or meet clients for friendly outings, are 70 plus years old themselves and are among those asked to keep themselves safe at home during the Covid-19 outbreak. A new cohort of younger Kew locals have for the time being taken up the helm, helping new and existing clients and volunteers, with shopping, prescription collection and errands. There are 28 newly DBS-checked and referenced volunteers ready to help. Here, Jennifer Powers shares her volunteer story.

Why did you want to volunteer?

As someone not at high risk, and with the time to help, I feel a responsibility to help out. Community has always been important to me (I host an annual Christmas drinks for my road) and it is fantastic to be part of a community like Kew where people look out for each other.

What you have done to help neighbours during the lockdown?

Before lockdown, I went door to door and collected contact details from the people I didn’t know so I could set up a WhatsApp group for the road. Some elderly neighbours don’t have mobiles so I call on their landlines to check in or speak to them when they’re out front. I am helping an elderly couple who are shielding. The wife only leaves home to visit hospital for cancer treatment.

What was normal life for you, and how has this has changed?

Life under lockdown is very different – I’ve become a year 2 teacher! Alongside times-tables and reading, we try to go for a walk or bike ride everyday. My husband now works long hours from our spare bedroom, occasionally popping upstairs for a coffee. While I feel almost guilty saying it, there are definite upsides to the lockdown. Not having to rush is the biggest luxury. It’s great having time to exercise and tackle all those odd jobs around the house!