COMMUNITY spirit has come to the fore in Helensburgh and Lomond during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic through the creation of volunteer groups set up to help the vulnerable.

The public health crisis continues to dominate local, national and international news and devastate individuals, businesses and organisations, however, kind-hearted residents are proving there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

With UK Government guidance advising elderly citizens and those with compromised immune systems to avoid unnecessary social contact for up to three months, thoughtful locals have rallied together to launch support groups aimed at providing for those in need.

One such group, Helping Helensburgh, has received more than 1,100 likes on social media since it started late last week.

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The inspiring initiative is the brainchild of Burgh woman Angela Fleming who has been overwhelmed at the response so far.

And with the Covid-19 outbreak showing no signs of slowing down, Angela is appealing for more people to back the scheme.

She told the Advertiser: “The idea is for the group to act as a ‘help wanted’ site, where a service user posts a request for help on the page and a local volunteer, ideally already known to the service user or living in the same street, will privately contact them and arrange to help.

“This could be collecting and delivering shopping, posting mail or even a telephone call to break up the loneliness of self-isolation.

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“We encourage safeguarding and good infection control practices when using this service along with reminding everyone if you offer to help this must be for free.

“The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive with so many people and businesses offering their assistance.

“We would like to say a very warm thank you to everyone for supporting this initiative in an uncertain time.

“We have all turned a negative into a positive by showing amazing community spirit.”

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An information leaflet has been created and will be distributed to other community groups and service users, while The Toy Shop in West Clyde Street and the Rosslea Hall Hotel in Rhu have offered to be telephone points of contact for anyone without internet access to get in touch and ask for assistance.

Similar projects have also begun on the peninsula, in Cardross and in Arrochar.

Julia Barr, who helped set up the Peninsula Coronavirus Support and Advice group on Facebook, said: “The group is essentially a tool for people to get in touch to request something they need, such as shopping, prescription collection, mail, as well as for people to offer specific types of support.

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“We have a lot of elderly and vulnerable people in the area, as well as young families, and I really just wanted to harness the amazing community spirit we have on the peninsula and do good in these uncertain times.

“The group is also there for people to ask questions, as well as provide a bit of humour to keep us all going.”

Around 200 members have joined the group already and the Kilcreggan Medical Centre has also got on board by holding a list of points of contact for anyone to get in touch with volunteers for supplies or assistance.

Cardross Cares is another group in the process of being set up for volunteers to help friends and neighbours in the village suffering from the coronavirus fallout.

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Meanwhile, there are individual offers of help too, among them from Melanie Andrews, owner of Craigard Tearoom in Helensburgh, who has closed her restaurant - but has offered to provide free lunch boxes to elderly residents who are unable to leave their homes.

If you would like to volunteer with Helping Helensburgh, start off at the group's Facebook page here, and if you require assistance call The Toy Shop on 01436 677500 or the Rosslea Hall Hotel on 01436 439955.

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