I am standing on my doorstep, spatula in hand, two metres away from someone I have never met before, shouting tips on how to stay safe when delivering leaflets.

This was just one of a bizarre series of meetings which came about after a remarkable response to a plea on social media in my village.

Similar things are happening in other parts of the country, but in my small corner of England I could not be more proud to live in Ruddington.

I have joined 300 other like-minded village volunteers to offer practical help to anyone who is in need during the current pandemic. This means shopping, fetching prescriptions, walking their dogs or a phone call.

The scheme was set up in record speed, long before the call for NHS volunteers nationally or the county council got its act together.

Unhampered by bureaucracy, borough councillor Jen Walker took swift action and, joined by Sue Matthews, Nikki Roe, Laura Ratcliffe and Mark Pinks, set up a volunteer group within days.

This group is made up of caring people who help run Ruddington Mums Facebook group, Ruddington Village Centre Partnership, parish council or are involved with St Peter’s Church.

Leaflets were printed to go to every house. These offered crucial contact information to those who needed help, especially the over 70s, the vulnerable and those self-isolating.

I now lead a group of householders living in a zone covering Wilford Road down to the High Street and many of the smaller roads off.

At 9.30am a few Saturdays ago, I started emailing the volunteers in my zone and asked if they were available to deliver the hundreds of leaflets I’d picked up that morning.

I was humbled and amazed at the response. Eight of the 13 in my group emailed me back straight away and six of them were on my doorstep before noon. I was overwhelmed by the kindness and compassion on display.

And here’s the measure of the volunteers in our village. The five people who did not catch up with their emails until later in the day were gutted at missing out. Some emailed my back more than once to ask if there was anyone who wanted help.

These people were complete strangers, yet we had an instant connection. They stood on my path two metres away and shared their stories and concerns – many are working from home and have elderly relatives just like the rest of us.

We now have a WhatsApp group to help us co-ordinate our tasks and some are making sure the NG11 food bank is kept well stocked.

I am pleased to report that real and practical help is being offered in Ruddington every day, be it for prescription collection and/or delivery, shopping, dog walking and telephone support.
Back on my doorstep, I gave the same demonstration to them all. Fold your leaflet round the spatula and push both through the letterbox, pull it out and the leaflet falls to the floor inside.

The 300 volunteers have two things in common. They live in our wonderful village and are willing to come away from their families and help those in need. Thank you all. You are amazing.

*The group’s Facebook page is Ruddington COVID-19 UK Mutual Aid.
Photo: Volunteer Gemma picking up leaflets ready to be delivered.