“I knew we were a supportive bunch, but this was next level!”

Here is a message from Alice Young of the Julian House Travelling Communities Support Service thanking the many volunteers and businesses who have supported liveaboard boaters during the Coronavirus lockdown:

“The K&A Covid-19 Volunteers have been truly incredible. In a matter of days over 70 people completed their Public Health training and were ready for action. It was a HUGE undertaking and everyone rose to the challenge and blew us away. Every boat had the support they needed at the time they needed it, speaking with people who shared a common language. The beauty of picking up the phone to a volunteer with a ‘I’m on a little red cruiser, just up from so and so on the offside’ and being met with ‘yup – no worries’ was a layer of red-tape that made a massive difference. None of this ‘oh, you live in a boat – so what shall we put as your address then?’ The volunteers also knew practical support went beyond prescriptions and food shopping – gas bottles, fuel for generators, coal and wood were all vital essentials to keep people going.

The volunteer support went beyond practical deliveries; the overwhelming feedback was the sense of having a ‘safety net’ during this crisis. Volunteer Helpers were the consistent and friendly face who would stop on their rounds to check-in with people, especially those people who were isolated or lonely. I haven’t named you all individually – but please know how grateful we are for everything you’ve done.

And a massive shout out to everyone along the way who contributed to making the last few months feel possible. Barge Inn pop-up shop; keeping folk well stocked with fresh fruit and veg – nice one Alistair and Nick! The Coal Boats who managed the ‘pay it forwards’ and a special shout out to Spencer Collins and Victoria who coped incredibly with our frantic last-minute requests. Rob and Trish on Litania for managing the endless stocks of donations and weekly boat deliveries with Marc & Sharon. The Floaty Boat crew lead by Laura for coordinating the West End fruit and veg scheme and her amazing culinary recipe ideas. The Hub in Bradford on Avon for supporting with food bank donations for the most in need – Avril was amazing at making sure there was always a good supply set aside for the community. Bradford on Avon Town Council’s effort to meaningfully supporting boaters; raising funds and consistently including key issues for boaters in their updates. Sue Stapleton for her twice weekly boater benefit surgery; so many people were saved the agonising experience of sitting on hold and got the guidance to navigate a system which can be challenging at the best of times! And to every person who contributed to the ‘pay it forwards’ – what a difference you made. Seriously, I knew we were a supportive bunch, but this was next level!

Behind the scenes there’s been a team of Volunteer Coordinators who have worked their socks off. I mean that wholeheartedly. It wasn’t glamorous, but every week they attended long meetings, grappled with spreadsheets, PPE orders, risk assessments and deadlines as we were thrown deeper into the logistics of what lockdown meant. Anna, Justin, Liz, Benedict, Emma, Lae, Jasame, Kay, Helen, Rowan and Linzi.

And to Emily, Carla and Emma – the Julian House team who have gone above and beyond at every stage. Truly the best colleagues you could hope for.

I cannot speak more highly of everyone who rolled their sleeves up and gave it everything they had. Eternal respect and gratitude doesn’t come close.

We may not know what next looks like, but if this past 11 weeks was anything to go by, I think the community will nail it.”

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