‘Looking After Ludham’ in the Waterside Benefice
Churchwarden Ken Grapes and Authorised Worship Assistant Christine Wall tell us about the creation of the volunteer group 'Looking After Ludham' and of the services of worship that are taking place whilst their lovely old church is closed.
Springing into Action
“We must do something,” said Dr. Christine Wall at the end of a PCC Fund Raising Committee meeting in Ludham on 10 March. Lockdown was imminent.
Luckily the village already had a fully functioning car scheme which takes villagers without transport to the doctor, the hospital and a host of other medical providers and collects and delivers prescriptions. This being one of several village facilities organised by Churches Together in Ludham. With the full support of the Parish Council, a quick ring around the committee resulted in the car scheme being widened to include the supply of food to locked down villagers.
An immediate problem was that almost all of the 30 or so volunteer drivers of the car scheme were themselves over 70 and therefore in lockdown. A prominent poster and the village facebook page brought forth 22 new and younger volunteers, so with the active members of the original car scheme, we had a force of 36 people. The existing scheme telephone number would now receive orders for food as well as prescriptions and medical transport.
Accounts were opened at the two village stores by Treasurer John Fletcher, so that the volunteers could do a shop, sign for the goods and deliver them with a copy of the till slip. Those items not available in the village are found by shopping trips to the nearest Tesco supermarket, to Roy’s of Wroxham and to Meales farm shop in Smallburgh. A second copy of each till slip is posted through the Treasurer’s letter box and he sends monthly bills to each ‘customer’. Payments being collected at the time of the next delivery. Prescriptions are also collected from the village surgery and delivered on a daily basis.
At the time of writing, 161 food deliveries have been made and 197 prescriptions collected and delivered plus the transport of two villagers to medical appointments – a total of 360 ‘missions’. Looking after Ludham is currently supplying 86 villagers with their necessities. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the volunteers have received many plaudits – one of the nicest (from a pensioner) being that,
“The scheme set up by Churches Together in Ludham has proved a Godsend to those of us in enforced isolation. To know that we only have to pick up a phone to ask for food or prescriptions to be delivered by someone with a smile and a cheerful greeting proves that we live in a village full of caring and concerned people – surely the true meaning of community.”
Our new volunteers, as one, say that they have found great personal satisfaction in being able to serve the people of our village in isolation. In several cases they have asked to join the regular members of the village car scheme when the pandemic is over.
Ludham Care Home
In the past week, conscious of the heightened anxiety of its residents, 65 flowering pot plants were delivered to the Ludham Care Home; one for each resident and member of staff, together with a card inscribed, “We are thinking of you – with best wishes for a happy Whitsun.”
The idea for this came from a much-liked past Vicar Neville Khambatta, who supplied the plants.
While the car scheme was financially well founded, a need for more funding soon became clear. Grants from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund and from Tesco’s community fund have enabled us to provide some cash relief grants, to pay our volunteers a mileage allowance for the use of their cars and to buy stocks of facemasks and sanitising gel.
This and That
Unwanted Government food parcels have been collected and re-deployed to the local school to help make up the free meals for some schoolchildren and also to the local Foodbank.
A village chat line has been established for those who have a worry or who are just lonely.
Each week a Situation Report is emailed to all volunteers to keep them up to date and to pass on the thanks of the organisers and the Chairman of the Parish Council. All scheme information is included in the Parish News (produced by the PCC), posted on the village Facebook page and on the Benefice website.
Worship with a Closed Church
Early on in the lockdown we discovered Zoom and from Easter Sunday, have held a Sunday morning service using it. The first was taken by our Rural Dean, the Revd Canon Catherine Dobson and subsequently by AWAs in the Benefice, each of whom has brought something of their own style of worship to the morning service. We are particularly delighted that Bishop Alan will be conducting our service on 7 June. The order of each service is circulated in advance so that those without access to Zoom or do not wish to take part, may still join in the service. It is also posted on the Benefice website and Facebook for the wider community to access.
Another great pleasure of the lockdown and Zoom has been that the Benefice Scratch Band can continue to meet and practice. This group of musicians and singers has found great pleasure in playing and worshipping together.
For the immediate future, we plan to continue in similar vein. Both our Sunday services and Scratch Band practices are eagerly anticipated and have been able to gel all concerned into a lovely supportive group, with the members in regular communication.
A Diocesan First?
Newly elected for Ludham St. Catherine, Rita Gibson and Ken Grapes were admitted as Wardens 0n 29 April 2020 by their Rural Dean, the Revd Canon Catherine Dobson, during a meeting conducted using Zoom. Whatever next?
We are in good heart and have learnt much about our parish and the place of God therein and the genuine kindness and generosity that has been shown by so many of our residents. Although our Ministry team is doing its (very good) best, it will be wonderful when a new Vicar is appointed to help us build on all the good things that have happened since March.