'This town is full of people that I had not heard of or met before, who were prepared to look out for each other'
When the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, Kettering people mobilised
For the people of Kettering the announcement of the national lockdown in March 2020 was a cause for much concern and stress. In addition to the risk to physical health that the virus posed, the lockdown was a looming threat for the mental health of the combined community.
North Northamptonshire Council and Kettering Town Council member Dr Anup Pandey had made it a priority to keep the community feeling united during a time when being separated was a necessity.
There was a desperate need for support and assurance, and the Kettering Support group not only provided that but reaffirmed a common belief: it is during despairing times that strength is demonstrated at its greatest.
In a discussion about the start-up and role of the Kettering Support Group, Cllr Pandey said: “I was in a good enough position to understand that many people, especially senior citizens were not sure what to do if the lockdown was imposed. I made the decision to coordinate a group of volunteers who would cater a little bit of help to the people who were going to self-isolate.
“We are group made up of more than fifty members, and we were able to help out with things such as shopping and collecting medication. We were also able to organise assistance for mental health and provide counselling over the phone.”
The Kettering Support Group was able to maximise its efforts month by month as the number of volunteers continued to grow.
Cllr Pandey said: “Many volunteers were doing grocery shopping for people who were in need of help, and there were a few times where the volunteers kindly shared their own items when the supermarkets were running out of supplies.
“It was good to come across so many people who wanted to help out, but were unsure of how to.”
Mr Pandey added a final sentiment: “The message I want to share at the end of all this is ‘Ubuntu’. It is a Zulu word meaning, ‘I am because of you’”.
A questionnaire was later made available to the members of the town community who had received help or support.
An anonymous member said: “The support group provided information and shared experiences. They allowed me to help others so that I didn’t feel helpless.”
Another anonymous response was: “This town is full of people that I had not heard of or met before, who were prepared to look out for each other. The Kettering Covid Support Group helped remind me that it’s okay not to be okay.”