Mon. May 16th, 2022

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

Community hub shutting down

2 min read

The East Cowes and Whippingham hub, which at the height of Covid was helping more than 400 people a day, is to shut down on April 1.

The hub was one of 27 formed across the Island organising the shopping and collecting medication for vulnerable people confined to their homes.

The organiser was Medina Ward councillor, Michael Paler, who planned the deliveries with a team of around 40 volunteers each day from his garage. He said: “It’s been an experience! It originally started when I was contacted by the East Cowes parish clerk when I was deputy mayor of East Cowes. Basically, I was given free rein to organise things with the IW Council.

“I got involved with the local community asking for volunteers and, when they contacted me, I would ask what they wanted to do and then assigned them to vulnerable people who needed their help.

“We had around 40 volunteers at the time and it was all done from my computer in the garage. Every morning, I would assign the volunteers to their roles working with pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries throughout.

“I tried to keep each volunteer with regular visits so that the isolated people would know who they were. Our highest week in the first lockdown involved 453 visits with 320 the lowest.

“I was also involved with the vaccination programme at the Riverside Centre from day one and I remember putting out a Facebook message on the Whippingham and East Cowes page at 4.45pm to say jabs were available the following day. In an hour-and-a-half there were 270 bookings.

“I look back at that time and think the community has been on a journey together; it’s been remarkable.

“I’ve kept the hub running because we had so many highly dependent people shielding and wanted to make sure they could still get help, but now is the right time to close it down. I’d like to thank all the chemists who put systems in place where the volunteers could collect medication for people without queuing; the prescriptions were all ready to go.”

After such a busy last two years, Michael is not taking things easy. He added: “I’m now involved with a Place Plan for Cowes and Northwood with the North Medina forum looking at getting four parish councils working together, Cowes, Northwood, East Cowes and Whippingham.

“We will be looking at a variety of policies which will take us through the next 20 years.”