Supporting the community during Coronavirus

Posted on 23rd April 2020

From an essential supplies shop to a mobile library service, staff and students at Bedales have rallied to support the local community during the Coronavirus crisis.

As the UK entered lockdown on 23 March, Bedales’ Head of Catering Matt Potts responded to news that many members of the local community and staff were having trouble getting hold of household staples in their local supermarkets by opening up the school’s larder to set up a supplies shop. Stocking a range of essentials – from dried pasta and tinned tomatoes to fresh fruit and vegetables – as well as offering individually packed frozen meals prepared by the school’s Catering department, the shop predominantly serves residents in Steep and nearby Steep Marsh, making around 10 to 20 deliveries per day, six days a week. The statistics speak for themselves – since the supplies shop launched on 24 March, 616 chicken breasts, 5040 eggs, 312 loaves of bread and 460 frozen meals have been dispatched.

In a true sign of community spirit, the service has been facilitated by Steep Volunteer Group, who have committed to supporting members of the community most in need during the Coronavirus crisis. Volunteers for the group include Bedales student Josh Baty, who has supported the group’s efforts by collecting orders from Bedales in a wheelbarrow and delivering them on foot to vulnerable and self-isolating residents.

Catering isn’t the only department at Bedales reaching out to the local community. Librarian Ian Douglas has also set up a mobile library service, enabling Steep residents to loan books from the Memorial Library’s extensive catalogue. With some 30,000 books to choose from, residents can access the catalogue and place an order remotely, and their chosen books are delivered to their door. A number of Bedales staff have also pledged support for the community in other ways, including offering to deliver shopping, collect prescriptions, dog walk and give lifts to healthcare appointments.

Outside of the local community, Bedales ICT Network Manager Shane Phillips – who is a serving volunteer sergeant and medical co-responder with Hampshire Police and Ambulance Service – has been providing extra support during the Coronavirus crisis. As part of his role, Shane has been encouraging the public to adhere to the Government’s social distancing guidelines, as well as responding to day-to-day emergencies.

As well as the many Old Bedalians working in the medical sector, two Old Bedalians – Felix Manley and Sasha Bruml – have been fundraising to cover the costs of producing and distributing plastic visors for healthcare workers who are operating on the frontline without the correct PPE. The Design department at Bedales is also planning to produce visors using the equipment in the school’s workshop when they receive the raw materials which are in short supply.

Block 3 student Maya Pocock has also been sewing masks for care workers during the Easter holidays. She said: "I read in the news that there was a shortage of PPE for medical staff because of the Coronavirus outbreak, so I thought it might be useful to make some. My mum found a pattern that I could sew at home and I made a few for my family and grandparents - and then my mum's friend asked if I would make some for her niece, who works in a care home."

Meanwhile, pupils at Bedales Prep, Dunhurst have demonstrated their support for the emergency services during the Coronavirus crisis by creating artwork for doctors, nurses and other keyworkers currently battling to contain and combat the virus, as part of a challenge set by the Awesome Movement which will see the positive and encouraging artwork shared on the movement’s social media channels.

Head of Bedales, Magnus Bashaarat, commented: “These initiatives are very much in tune with the school’s founding motto, ‘Work of each for weal of all’, and we are keen to play our part in the impressive community effort and offer support where we can at this difficult time”.