Lockdown left us all feeling a bit shocked at first, I think. I for one also felt a bit powerless to help. So, when I saw a plea from local couple Jo and Deri Hughes for help with a community initiative to get food to those isolating, I was thrilled to help!
The result is Shop + Drop, a volunteer-run, not-for-profit service that lets vulnerable people in the Hertford area order essential food items online or on the phone, and have them delivered to their door.
Find out how to place an order at www.shopanddrop.org
I caught up with Jo recently to find out how it’s all going!
Hi Jo! Thanks for finding the time to tell me more about the project… It looks like you’ve got an amazing team there?
We have! We’ve been overwhelmed by the numbers of volunteers who’ve come forward and have far more than we can put to work at the moment!
People assume they’re our friends and acquaintances, but they’re virtually all people we didn’t know before. And they’re so lovely! We’ve gained a real sense of community and belonging. They’ve been fabulous in everything they’ve done, and also made this a really special experience for us personally – so a huge thank you goes to them all.
We were also blown away by the offers of help when we first announced we were going to set up, and the phenomenal speed with which it all came together.
Within a week of us having the idea, we had a logo, a website, printed leaflets, a phone system, a physical location, social media presence… all created and donated by local people who stepped up to help.
The speed was really important to help those who were anxious, and the turnaround time was remarkable, so a big thank you to all the individuals and companies who supported us to get Shop + Drop off the ground so quickly. They say these times bring out the best and the worst in people, and we’ve been lucky to see so much of the best.
You’re right! There’s been SO much going on locally, it’s been really reassuring. Have there been any standout moments for you with Shop + Drop so far?
A really lovely moment for me was taking the first bags of shopping to Cllr Peter Ruffles.
He was a notorious teacher at my secondary school and taught me English in year 9. He used to organise door knocking around Hertford to collect money for Christian Aid – he’d drive groups of us school kids from street to street in the school minibus and at the end of the evening take us all back to his house for a hot chocolate. I remember being in awe of the number of books he had – in my mind there were rooms of them stacked floor to ceiling – and that there was no TV! So, returning to knock on that door and see him again was really special.
Ah that’s lovely! And aside from Shop + Drop, how’s life in lockdown treating you?
I think it’s a mixed bag. We have four kids aged seven and under, so two lots of school work to manage and toddler twins to entertain alongside that. It’s relentless and overwhelming at times and very messy…
But it’s also been incredibly special to have this time together, with lots of moments I’ll cherish. There are things I miss from ‘before’, and others I really don’t, and new realisations about what the best version of life means for us.
Ups and downs, highs and lows – that all sounds very familiar. Can you sum up your lockdown life in three words?!
Three words is tricky! But let’s say “relentless, special and revealing”.
And finally… what’s the first thing you’re looking forward to doing when lockdown eases?
Dropping the kids at my mum and dad’s!