Ray Collins is well known in the OX12 Community. He and his colleagues at the Ray Collins Charitable Trust focus on the relief of loneliness and poverty in Wantage and surrounding villages.
They normally organise a number of regular events during the year including Christmas Day and Easter Sunday dinners, day trips and outings as well as supporting needy families with home or garden makeovers.
In the current crisis they have cancelled all the upcoming events including the Easter Egg Collections, Easter Sunday Dinner, Day trips and the Wantage Carnival.
They are working with Wantage Town Council and Wantage Chamber of Commerce to create the Wantage and Surrounding Area Coronavirus Support Group.
Both Councillor Jenny Hannaby and James Goodman (Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce) have told me how incredibly hard everyone has worked to get the Support Group up and running and how proud they are of the work being done.
The Group have signed up over 100 volunteers and Wantage Town Council has donated £6,000, Grove Parish Council have donated £5,000 and Waitrose have donated stock to the value of £1,000 so that the most in need and vulnerable residents can get the support they need.
The Group are working with our local chemists to manage the demand for prescriptions and are providing a delivery service working with Lloyds at the Health Centre, and Boots and Cleggs in Wantage.
If you are self-isolating or otherwise unable to get to the shops, they will organise shopping for you and deliver it to your door.
They are also working with Corks and Canapes, and Sugar and Spice to provide a Meals on Wheels service.
Obviously you will have to pay for your shopping or meals but all deliveries are free.
They haven’t suspended all of their usual activities though and are still providing the assistance to sick, disabled, injured and needy people in Wantage and surrounding villages.
You can contact the Support Group by telephone on 01235 260033 between 9am - 7pm.
If you need advice please don’t forget that the Wantage Independent Advice Centre may have closed the office but can still provide advice on a number of topics including benefit entitlement, DLA and PIP applications, Universal Credit, employment rights, consumer rights and debt management on the telephone.
They can be contacted on 01235 765348 any time between 10.00 and 3.30 Monday to Friday. You will be able to leave a message outside of these times.