Drivers check-in on residents, delivering household items and food during social distancing.
The Rosie May Foundation is delivering essential household supplies and meals to those in the Bingham, Nottinghamshire, area during the coronavirus pandemic – using very noticeable hot pink tuk tuks. So far, the foundation has delivered more than 1,800 meals and volunteers have visited even more local residents who need to chat during this time of social isolation. In the U.K., this personal touch will help the one in four people who are suffering from feelings of loneliness as a result of COVID-19.
“We’ve got thirteen volunteer tuk tuk drivers,” said Sam Ellis, the charity’s fundraising and individual giving manager. “We support the [local] pharmacy, businesses and the market stallholders by delivering essential items and vital medication to the self-isolated and the vulnerable.”
The Rosie May Foundation is back by the mobile phone network, giffgaff, which has a mission of combating loneliness during the pandemic with its goodybag initiative, a hardship fund for members who can’t afford to buy phone time. Through goodyg, network members are able to donate additional minutes, texts, or data to those who need it most. In addition to the program, giffgaff is matching all donations and has helped 50,000 people stay connected so far.
“At giffgaff we have always had community at our heart and never has a sense of community been more important,” said Ash Schofield, CEO of giffgaff. “Our members are an altruistic bunch and the goodybag allows them to get involved should they be able to help. Even if we’re far apart, we want people to know they can ask for help and someone will always be there to offer that help and keep them connected.”
The Rosie May Foundation was founded in memory of ten-year-old Rosie May Storrie, who was murdered in 2003. Her parents wanted to help vulnerable populations and came up with a vision to one day live in “a world in which every child grows up in a safe, nurturing family and has a positive future.” They watched the devastation left behind by the tsunami in Sri Lanka, as well, and discovered over 90 percent of women have been sexually harassed on public transport in the area, so they expanded their efforts to serve individuals and families both in the U.K. and in Sri Lanki. They came up with using hot pink tuk tuks to keep Storrie’s “girl power” mantra alive.
Some of the meals offered by the program were prepared by the Rehoboth Community Outreach Club, a South London charity that serves free hot meals from the kitchens of area churches and delivers them to homeless shelters. The club was founded by Paula Litchmore and now serves more than 100 people every week. With churches being closed during the pandemic, however, Litchmore sought an alternative route to delivering her meals and found giffgaff and the Rosie May Foundation.
“That £400 that we got from giffgaff actually pushed us to continue and not to give up,” Paula said. “We were able to buy fruit and veggies for meals [and] help the people in the community – our churches, care homes and hostels – who don’t have anything.”
With the collaboration of all of these groups, and the help of a squad of pink tuk tuks, vulnerable populations will continue to be served despite ‘the new normal.’