Volunteers build beautiful friendships

COMMUNITY volunteers brought together in the unique circumstances of the pandemic have become firm friends and hope they will eventually be able to meet as a group for the first time.

Founder of the Knaphill, St John’s, Brookwood Volunteer Group Sonal Sher, is hoping to organise an opportunity for all the volunteers to meet up in person once lockdown restrictions permit it.

Sonal Sher (front, second right) with some of her Knaphill volunteers who have been helping people in lockdown

Initially, Sonal reached out on Knaphill Community Facebook group at the start of the coronavirus crisis to help residents who were in isolation in lockdown and were unable to go out to get essential supplies such as food and medical prescriptions. She soon received support from volunteers across a wide area of Woking along with requests for help.

“I have seen many beautiful friendships form between people who have never met before but who got on really well when communicating on the Facebook group,” Sonal said.

The original WhatsApp group and temporary Facebook group Sonal set up, have now moved to Slack and Facebook, which is still active with over 500 members.

“I am really glad I set up this group and I am really proud of everybody who has come together and helped over the last few months,” she said. “Things have calmed down now but our volunteers are consistently offering their help to those who may still be isolating or who need the extra support.”

Sonal had also organised a leaflet drop over 100 streets in the area and although the group has been mainly covering Knaphill, St John’s and Brookwood, it has also helped residents in other local areas such as Pirbright and Bisley.

She was able to create a system that matched the skills and abilities of volunteers to various required tasks. As a resul, alongside help collecting medical prescriptions, delivering food shopping and gardening for those who were isolated, there was also a phone call team providing care calls for people who wanted some company and a chat over the phone.

“The commitment I have seen from everyone has been lovely – I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the help of all of the volunteers.”

A helpline number is still available on 01483 380801 or residents can email wokingvolunteers@gmail.com.

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