Coronavirus: Preston group tackling 'shopping crisis' and offering mental health support during Covid-19 outbreak
A group of Preston people have set up a Facebook coronavirus support network that has gained nearly 11,000 members in just three days.
Mark Wilson has teamed up with several fellow residents, who wish to remain anonymous, to launch the CoronaVirus North West Support Group (Covid-19 2020) on Facebook.
They will use the group to co-ordinate help for vulnerable people who are self-isolating. They plan to pick up and deliver essential items to those who are struggling, as well as offering mental health support, sharing and organising information, and answering people's questions about the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on daily life.
Mark said: "We didn't expect the group to become as big as it has. Member requests are going through the roof, from people in their teens to their 80s. Everyone is welcome, no matter their background."
The 38-year-old added: "It's brilliant to see such community spirit, as it's so important to help people who are vulnerable, elderly or suffering from mental illness."
The team will help to provide information about issues like hygiene and where to buy essential supplies, and also plans to help food banks replenish their stocks.
"Things are confusing right now. We're not professionals, so we're vetting information and making sure we only post facts, not fiction. We don't want to bombard people with information or scare them," Mark said.
"It's also going to be hard when schools close. Some families are going to struggle, so we want people to know that help is out there.
"We hope the group will also help local businesses. There's a shopping crisis going on, so we'll let people know which shops are well-stocked, and if pubs and restaurants are delivering food."
The group is also about "keeping community spirit alive," Mark adds.
"It connects people. More of us will become isolated in the coming weeks, and it's going to get worse before it gets better. There are people out there with anxiety and depression, so even just having someone to talk to can make a difference," he said.
"No-one needs to feel embarrassed but if you don't feel comfortable posting in the group, you can message me or one of the other admins."
And, as he added, "We're all in the same boat and we just need to keep the community spirit strong."
For more information or to get involved, please search for CoronaVirus North West Support Group (Covid-19 2020) on Facebook.