Susan van de Ven

Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon Learn more

Sharing Good Practice – village Covid-19 support networks

by Susan van de Ven on 17 April, 2020

Every village in South Cambridgeshire – that’s over 100 villages – now has its own local support network, each with particular features and ideas.  There has been much sharing of good practice on prescriptions collections, village communication, emergency financial support for residents in need, local food bank need, and social and practical support.  The bigger the village the more activity.

Here is a sketch of village networks in our area, and what they do:

Melbourn Coronavirus Community Response Team:

Tel 263303 Option 1  &

Melbourn incorporates resources provided by the Melbourn Timebank and Melbourn Hub; its network is coordinated by the Timebank Coordinator with the District Councillor, Parish Council Chair and Hub Director working as a team.  A large network of volunteers provide support on a neighbourhood level.  The Parish Council-funded Timebank has spent the past year or so establishing itself and is now in an ideal position to serve community needs.   The Melbourn Hub serves as a call centre, and the Timebank’s ‘Melbourn and Meldreth’ Facebook Page provides an information sharing platform.  Melbourn Parish Council convened remotely to authorize the use of ‘Section 137’ monies to underwrite a £2.5K fund to provide loan-based assistance for any resident unable to purchase needed prescriptions and provisions; the parish council also successfully applied for an additional £5K grant from South Cambs District Council, as part of an SCDC dedicated Coronavirus community grant aid scheme. 

Meldreth Coronavirus Community Support:, Tel: 07811 323571  Tel: 07905 325574

Meldreth’s support network is run by the District and County Councillors, assisted by six Zone Leaders who coordinate a large network of neighbourhood volunteers. A dedicated Facebook page provides an information sharing platform. The Royston Rotary Club has organised a dedicated Meldreth JustGiving page, which raising funds for emergency supplies that are not available from Meldreth’s dedicated food and supplies bank or Honesty Box.  More funds will be needed and the network is actively exploring how to seek support from both public and grant sources. 

Bassingbourn Helpers: 07496 084509,, 01763243637

Bassingbourn’s large volunteer network is coordinated by a local resident and runs on a WhatsApp channel, covering all parts of the villages.  This is closely supported by the Parish Clerk and District Councillor, with a team representing the church, Parish Councillors and County Councillor.  A ‘Care and Share’ food bank has been established.  The Parish Clerk is available to discuss Section 137 funds. The ‘Bassingbourn Reporting’ Facebook page is an active village communications platform.

Whaddon Parish Council:,

Whaddon is divided into four village zones, each covered by two Parish Councillors.  Whaddon’s existing village email network has ensured a smooth and efficient means of communication, providing a wide range of information and virtual social activity.  With paper copies distributed to households without internet access, 99% of the village is very well covered.  There’s also a village ‘Whaddsapp’ group for socialising and information sharing.

Shepreth Network:,

Shepreth’s network was set up by the Chair of the Parish Council who was quarantined at the time!  The network is supported by volunteers and the District Councillors. The network uses the ‘Spotted in Shepreth’ Facebook Page to good effect.

Pharmacy collections are challenging, because so many people are self-isolating and because pharmacies and dispensaries need to reduce the number of people passing through their doors. Melbourn has developed a pharmacy collection system now being shared with Meldreth and Whaddon, in liaison with Orchard Surgery and Well Pharmacy Melbourn.  This process is designed to greatly reduce the footfall to the pharmacy. The process involves collection of the prescription note, submission to the GP, then the collection and delivery to the resident.  Melbourn Parish Council Chair and a Melbourn volunteer are the only two volunteers doing this in Melbourn and has significantly reduced the footfall to the pharmacy. A Meldreth Parish Councillor and the Whaddon Parish Council Chair then collect their respective villages’ prescriptions from the Melbourn Hub and deliver to their residents.  Melbourn, Whaddon and Meldreth are also working with outlier pharmacies in Harston and Royston as well as Tesco. 

Data protection and safeguarding: All of these networks have engaged assiduously with issues of data protection and safeguarding, under the guidance of and in direct contact with the new South Cambs District Council ‘Patch Manager’ as first point of call into the County-wide ‘Community Hub’.  

Local small and medium sized business concerns are directly and actively supported by South Cambridgeshire District Council – please get in touch if contact is needed or see here:

What about ‘NHS Volunteers’ and ‘Cambridgeshire Community Hub Volunteers’?  Both organisations put out early calls for volunteers; at the time of writing, the overwhelming response is being processed and organised.  Needless to say it is the intention for all these networks to work efficiently and not duplicate, and for the NHS and County Council respectively to deploy people with appropriate skills to health and social care oriented roles.

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