First task of day starts with the team telephoning the shops taking part in the scheme to find out how many deliveries there are and what time they will be ready for collecting. Typically on a Monday there are around 40 boxes and bags of food and other essentials.
Once Neil and Linda have picked up the supplies they organise all the bags and the route they will take to make sure they can get their deliveries out as efficiently as possible. This can take up to one and a half hours but is time well spent as although the van is refrigerated so nothings spoils, if they have to drive backwards and forwards to places then it uses more fuel and it's all wear and tear on the van. Of course it also means that people don't have to wait longer than they need to for their orders.
When everything is organised they take to the road. Unsurprisingly 40 deliveries can take up to four hours to complete, so it's a full day for the couple.
Apart from dropping off supplies, an essential part of the delivery service is the contact with customers. All the volunteers enjoy a brief chat, (at a safe distance of course), and the welcoming smiles. Making sure that residents are well and coping is important, as for some residents it could be the only time they see another person that day. If there are any problems then Neil and Linda can advise and help find a way to a solution.
It's quite late in the afternoon when they finish deliveries and return to base. However their work is not yet done as the van then needs to be scrupulously disinfected to ensure it is clean and virus free for Tuesday's team and the next day of deliveries.
If you haven't already used Alston Essentials for your shopping, find out how you can benefit from this wonderful service which is run completely by volunteers more info.
'Friendships out of Adversity'
By Gary Wright
"A day out on the AE van with Liz Walton as my partner in crime is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever done.
I may have driven all over Europe and into Asia as well but to be driving around the back roads of Slaggyford and the outlying areas has certainly been a wonderful experience with such beautiful views in this fantastic weather we have been having.
Myself and Liz had really not connected since school days bar in passing at church so what I want to say and get over is how 'Friendship out of Adversity' has been forged. Not just between Liz and myself but with all our customers as well.
Most call us by our names, we always stop and have a socially distant natter with them and it is our hope that when we can legally do so to have a big party with them. The residents in that catchment area are all so friendly.
The teams from Sadlers , the Whole Food shop , Mad Hatters and the Nook work so amazingly hard behind the scenes and we always have a laugh when loading the van up. There are others as well such as the staff at Moredun Garage , again people behind the scenes helping us stay out on the road.
I have also worked with other members of the team who I never knew before. Now we are friends and we all enjoy doing the AE van. Well done everyone involved & Yes Dug I will get my bike out one day!"
This article may have focused on certain members of the team, but we must mention the others, without whom Alston Moor would not benefit from such a valuable and friendly service.
The full line-up are:- Food deliveries - Liz Walton and Gary Wright, Linda and Neil Willmott, Vivienne and Andrew Cullens, Stuart English and Mark Nash-Williams. Prescriptions - Lizzie and Dave Smith, Julie and Tom Coonan, Bar Nash-Williams.
Thank you to all on behalf of the Alston Moor community!
For full details of Alston Essentials, follow the link here