People in Renfrewshire are continuing to go above and beyond to help the area’s most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.

Emergency food drives have been launched, support has poured in for elderly locals and charities are doing all they can to make the lockdown a bit more manageable.

And the boss of a Johnstone charity believes it shows we will “all be better people” when the outbreak is finally over.

Active Communities chief Susan McDonald says she is sure we will all look at how we treat one another in society as she outlined how the charity is continuing to support people during the shutdown.

The Gazette: Susan McDonald Susan McDonald

The Quarry Street health and wellbeing hub, which is currently closed due to government advice, has taken its classes online in a bid to stay connected with locals.

Susan, who is Active Communities manager, told The Gazette: “We work with quite a lot of people who are already quite lonely and isolated, so we’re trying to do everything we can to keep in touch with people.

“We’ve got our team phoning round people who haven’t got access to wifi or social media, just to check in with them and make sure they are alright and to see if anyone needs help or support.

“What we have been doing is trying to post as much of our groups online as we can and each day we are going to post health tips and pointers to help people look after their mental health wellbeing and to keep active.”

She added: “We want to help as many people as we can through this.

“I said to one of the staff members the other day that I think we will all come out of this better people because it is making us realise that we need to look out for others a lot more.

“Whether that’s making contact with your neighbours or people on social media saying they are going to the shops and asking if people need anything.

“People are supporting one another and I think it is going to lead to a bit of reflection on how we do live day-to-day and what is important.”

So far, social media supporters have been treated to a bread-making class by Kairos Women’s Space boss Katy Wilson-Scott, who gave viewers all the tips they ‘knead’ during an online class on Monday.

The Gazette: Katy Wilson-ScottKaty Wilson-Scott

And Susan says there is plenty more to come in the weeks ahead as staff continue to try to find ways to keep people fit and healthy from the comfort of their own homes.

“It will hopefully encourage people to try something new and to get involved in the conversation online,” she said.

“We are just looking at all the groups we have and one of our fitness instructors is posting fitness videos online. It is about seeing how we can be a bit more innovative and look at some fun things people can do.

“We are just trying to think of as many funny ideas as we can and getting them online.”

Across Renfrewshire, locals are continuing to do their bit to prove Susan is right to be so positive.

In Erskine, residents are being invited to take part in a taskforce which has been set up to address the coronavirus crisis.

Erskine Community Council has co-ordinated the group, consisting of local churches, Bridgewater Housing Association and volunteers, who have formed an action plan to protect the most vulnerable in the community.

They will be tackling social isolation, as well as practical issues such as delivering groceries and healthcare items to residents. 

Forms are being used by the community council to create a point of contact between vulnerable self-isolating individuals and volunteer helpers, as well as leaflets designed to identify the need for social distancing when dropping off goods.

The group is even finding ways to adapt to new government measures which are demanding people stay at home. 

Jacqui Reid, secretary of Erskine Community Council, told The Gazette: “We have been overwhelmed by the support from everyone in the town and beyond. 

“We have had offers from West Renfrewshire Cabs to pick up food, drop it off at our house, and then help deliver it to people.

“We have worked out a system where we store the food in the storage areas of people that live together then we are not breaking any rules when it comes to making the care packages.

“It’s about trying to mitigate the risk.” 

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