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That's When Good Neighbours Become Good Friends

Published: 5th June 2021 13:45

Praised for volunteering efforts by Neighbourhood Watch, Willaston resident Ruth Hampshire is a true Neston role model. 

In June last year, Willaston village resident Ruth Hampshire became a member of the Cheshire Neighbourhood Watch Association and set up a local Neighbourhood Watch scheme in her own street: The Courtyard, Willaston.

Ruth says: "The effects of COVID-19 lockdowns have been immense... but our community spirit here in Willaston has thrived."

The elderly have been disproportionately disadvantaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and many have suffered isolation, loneliness and may have fallen victim to scams. Many neighbours now hopefully know each other that bit better and firm friends have definitely been cemented in The Courtyard.

Ruth tells us it has been her pleasure to help neighbours, despite suffering from various debilitating health conditions herself. As a consequence of those conditions, Ruth has found the added pressures of lockdown restrictions extremely difficult at times and helping others has given her a sense of purpose and made her feel useful and valued.

Since the very first lockdown began, Ruth has assisted neighbours with weekly shopping and is now on week number 63. She has organised precsription requests and delivery, sourced hearing aid batteries and sorted transportation for COVID vaccinations.

Ruth has been conscious of loneliness and so has regularly made use of a telephone calling tree to get messages out efficiently. There have been numerous household issues that Ruth has also helped with, like smoke alarm issues, central heating failure, Wi-Fi problems and especially issues concerning online banking and phishing scams.

Getting friends virtually connected with family has been a big win for Ruth and she is actually now representing her community as a Cheshire West and Chester Council Community Champion, making sure important information is shared with others.

In November 2020 Ruth was invited to join the Cheshire Neighbourhood Watch Association AGM and awards event via Zoom. She was surprised that she had been nominated for an award and completely shocked when told she had won: Ruth Hampshire is officially the Cheshire COVID-19 Community Volunteer of the Year Winner. You can read about Ruth and all of the other volunteers nominated across categories here.

Ruth Hampshire can be very proud of her Neighbourhood Watch Award.Ruth Hampshire can be very proud of her Neighbourhood Watch Award. Her award reads: "Ruth Hampshire: Ruth lives in Willaston near Neston and was nominated for volunteering to shop for her elderly immediate neighbours during the pandemic.

She set up a system for itemising the needs of 6 households and for managing payments efficiently, and every week she went to several shops to buy everything on their lists, including collecting prescriptions and hearing aid batteries, finally delivering to each door. She was commended not just for her commitment to her neighbours, but also for her caring and patient approach, which clearly made a huge difference to her vulnerable neighbours."

Ruth says: "Every nominee is deserved of thanks and praise for their time, efforts, thoughtfulness and ingenuity caring for neighbours and their community especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're all in this together and I am so fortunate to live here in our lovely village of Willaston with neighbours that I call friends and local community groups who go out of their way to help and support each other during these troubling times."

One of Ruth's nominees fed back: "... Ruth unselfishly drove to a supermarket. She could only manage two lots of shopping in one go due to her own health problems which meant her queuing outside three times in order to complete the list for all 6 residents. At all times she was caring, cheerful and very very patient and in my opinion truly deserves to be recognised for her kindness during a very difficult time".

Ruth is often the only person shopping at Sainsbury's with a clip-board and pen on a string, an array of labelled bags in the trolley, using 2 or 3 hand-held scanners at a time. It is certainly a logistical challenge ensuring the right product is put into the right bag, that the correct number of items have been scanned for each separate customer and keeping the payment reconciliation spreadsheet up to date, using mobile banking for cheque re-imbursement of shopping costs.

She has praised the staff at Sainsbury's, Ellesmere Port, who have gone out of their way to help. It can take Ruth a couple of hours to shop using six separate shopping lists, whilst trying to locate items that are not familiar. 

Although lockdown restrictions are now being eased, Ruth intends to continue supporting her neighbours and the elderly in her community as best as she can, which is highly commendable after all of the effort she has already made.

Overlapping with Volunteers' Week is Neighbourhood Watch week 5 - 11 June 2021. Neighbourhood Watch is the largest crime prevention charity in the UK and they say: "If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that neighbourliness and community spirit is just as important as ever." They want us to: "... build on the connections we have made before and during lockdown. Let's stay connected!" 

You can find out more about them and the dedicated Neighbourhood Watch week on their website. Cheshire Neighbourhood Watch Association has its own website and is active on social media at the following links: Facebook, Twitter.



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