CHARD’S tireless team of 300 volunteers is set to stop providing coronavirus support to the town’s residents by the end of this month.

With the government’s lockdown rules slowly being lifted and the rate of infection going down, the Chard Covid-19 Support Group has announced intentions to cease operations.

Jason Hawkes, the group’s chairman, said: “The support group aims to complete the majority of support tasks by July 24.

“This means that the services will no longer be available from the volunteers after that date, unless there is a second wave of the virus.

“For many people who have been shielding, ‘coming out’ will be psychologically difficult. We want to help people in this situation, but we simply don’t have enough volunteers to meet the demand.”

However, there are things that everyone in the community can do, Jason says.

First, speak to your shielding neighbours and offer to accompany them into town for the first trip.

If you are shielding, find those around you who are also shielding and organise to go into town together If you could offer this for people, call the Covid-19 group to be matched with someone in need of a first-trip companion.

Jason added: “This ‘first-trip companion’ will be really important for so many people and we need to do this as a community.

“If you are a volunteer, please ring us so we can advise you how best to handle that transition with the people you are supporting.

“If you have been supported by us, ring so we can manage your needs until the end of July and to find support after that date. We have a new system coming into place for prescription deliveries, but we need you to call us.”

To speak to the Chard Covid-19 Support Group, call 01460 239567. One service set to continue is the group’s phone buddying.

Jason said: “Many of the volunteers who are making a regular call for a chat with someone who is shielding or isolated have expressed a willingness to carry on after the Support Group closes which is truly amazing.

“If you would either like be a phone buddy, or feel you would benefit from a regular friendly natter, contact us and we will forward your details to the phone buddy team.”