A village resident has been pulling out all the stops to help her community throughout the pandemic. Sue Brownsword, who lives in Werrington, has created activity craft packs for the youngsters, organised a fundraising Halloween decoration initiative; been a drop off point for a donated gifts scheme which she also gift wrapped, and her latest initiative is a scheme where families in need of food can confidentially ask for help and Sue asks – via a village Facebook page – for donations from the community.
A village resident has been pulling out all the stops to help her community throughout the pandemic.
Sue Brownsword, who lives in Werrington, has created activity craft packs for the youngsters, organised a fundraising Halloween decoration initiative; been a drop off point for a donated gifts scheme which she also gift wrapped, and her latest initiative is a scheme where families in need of food can confidentially ask for help and Sue asks – via a village Facebook page – for donations from the community.
Sue told the Times & Echo: “It all started because we have a very active local community Facebook page – All Things Werrington for Werrington and the surrounding areas.
“I am part of the Admin team along with Polly and Dave.
“During the first lockdown many parents were posting that their kids were bored and that with so many shops being shut, getting activities for the kids was difficult.
“As a Guider and crafter I had a mountain of craft supplies so I started putting together craft packs and ideas for activities, leaving them on a table in the drive for folk to pick up whilst out exercising.
“It took off and I continued throughout the summer, doing about 50 packs a week.
“The local community were fantastic – as always – and folk donated wool, paper, labels; anything that could be repurposed into a craft activity.”
Sue continued: “Then once the first lockdown was over and we were looking at a second, folk were posting that the kids were going to miss Halloween.
“I suggested that kids could still enjoy Halloween if folk decorated their windows, the kids could walk around with parents, socially distancing and perhaps parents could provide the treats.
“This took off and I volunteered to put together a list of houses taking part – we had over 100.
“The local Werrington Scout and Guide Group had to cancel their annual bonfire which was a main fundraiser so we linked in with them; asking folk to donate to the Scouts instead of buying sweets for trick or treating. The community was fantastic and we raised over £1,000.
“Then in November the community was posting about how difficult Christmas was going to be.
“Mell Owen posted that her son Fletcher, who is eight, was saving his pocket money to buy presents for any local elderly to cheer them up at Christmas.
“Everyone thought this was a great idea and wanted to help. Fletcher lives on a working farm and folk dropping donated gifts off there was not practical and as I live pretty much in the centre of the village, so I offered to be a collection point.
“The local community were outstanding. Businesses locally donated wrapping paper, gift bags, mince pies and boxes of biscuits. Residents donated gifts of toiletries etc.
“We had over 700 gifts donated. I wrapped and sorted them into gift bags and Fletcher was able to deliver gifts to the four local elderly care homes in and around Werrington and to folk living alone in the community.”
Sue’s efforts then turned to helping to feed families in the village.
She said: “Then after Christmas, a member of the (Facebook) page Liz Caufield, who is also a social worker, asked online if there was anyone in need of food in the village.
“This and the media coverage of the Free School meal parcels for the community wanting to put a safety net in place for local residents who could be struggling.
“I volunteered to coordinate a scheme where folk who needed help could contact me – either through messaging on Facebook or by telephone; I would then post a list of what was needed and local residents could identify what they could donate.
“This way, we did not need somewhere to store food, and risk it going out of date etc. Again the community was fantastic.
“We had two requests for help after 24 hours of setting the scheme up and we were able to respond within a few hours with bags of groceries containing everything from washing up liquid to fresh veg to breakfast cereal and tea bags.
“The scheme is for local residents with goods donated by local residents. Folk have been so generous – offering donations, offering help to deliver etc.
“The two families that have been supported so far have thanked everyone. The scheme is confidential and no personal details are shared.”
Sue modestly said of all the community work she has been doing during the pandemic: “It’s all been a community effort. I haven’t had to do much – most of it has been organising things via social media.
“All the work has been done by the local community. The small part I have played has kept me busy and occupied during lockdown – I find it hard to do nothing.
“Part of it is living my Guiding Promise too – serving my community.
“I just don’t want anyone going hungry.
“The community support has been fantastic. Recent research said Stoke on Trent was the friendliest and most helpful city in the UK – Werrington has to be the best village.”
Anyone in Werrington in need of help with food, can get in contact with Sue via the ‘All Things Werrington for Werrington and the surrounding areas’ Facebook page.
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