Community spirit brings Middleton together by Middleton in Action Together volunteers
Date published: 18 May 2020
Middleton in Action Together drop off point at the Scout Hut at St. Michaels Church
Local volunteer group Middleton in Action Together has been hard at work ensuring that vulnerable people in the town have access to help during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Made up of local volunteers, the group was set up at St Michael’s Church earlier this year after choir member Darrell Blakeley, 88, sadly died after testing positive for Covid-19.
Following his death, Darrell’s family asked the people of Middleton for random acts of kindness to be carried out, in lieu of flowers, which has now evolved into a wider effort of over 60 volunteers.
Revd Jackie Calow, of St Michael’s, said: “We were set up fairly quickly and ready to help people.”
Neil McClure, who was behind the group’s founding, added that it became apparent quickly that people would struggle to shop, collect prescriptions and food.
Middleton in Action Together is also distributing food parcels. Each box contains enough food for a week, and when Rochdale Online spoke to the group, 65 carefully tailored packages of food had been distributed to families who were genuinely in need of help, consisting of items like baby food and milk for the youngest, to hand-selected goods for the older generation.
Neil said: “The families have been appreciative, and you do build a nice relationship with people. “Some people are embarrassed to ask for help because they think we will ask lots of questions, but we only ask one: why do you need help?
“Requests for food packages has increased over lockdown, and the leaders of Brownies, Scouts and Guides have been leading the food runs from the Scout Hut.”
Having grown with volunteers from over the town, Middleton in Action Together has been helped by children and adults, individuals and companies since March, also working alongside Rochdale Borough Council’s hub and its adult services.
Large donations have been made by St Michael's PTFA, Pike Fold Primary School, Wordsworth Toiletries and Tesco Extra, whilst the Middleton community has also donated vital goods like gloves, face masks and aprons, to jigsaws, toiletries and Easter eggs.
Rochdale company Inktech has also been invaluable to the Middleton volunteers, providing litres of hand sanitiser for the eight care homes in the area. Middleton in Bloom has tidied a care home garden for residents’ use, whilst its sponsor, Storage World Self Storage and Workspace, has provided boxes to assist with donations and distribution.
Keeley O’Mara, of Middleton in Bloom, said: “On behalf of Middleton in Bloom, Middleton in Action Together, and all the care homes in Middleton, we would like to say a massive thank you to Inktech Innovation for doing what they are doing to assist key workers, thank you to the community for all the donations and thank you to the care home staff for all your hard work in these unprecedented times.”
Pupils from St John Fisher’s RC Primary School and St Joseph’s RC Primary in Heywood have created cards to be distributed, thoughtful touches from the young children.
Revd Calow said: “Amongst the sadness, it’s an opportunity for us all to come together regardless of politics or religion as we have volunteers from different places with different needs.”
Neil agreed: “I can see us being a stop-gap to help and even becoming a charity in our own right.
“People genuinely need and want help, and it’s been so emotional along the way – but it is rewarding, both for the volunteers, and those in need.”
Surplus food donations are given to the local foodbank at the Lighthouse Project, and even the town’s MP, Chris Clarkson, met the team last week to see how Middleton in Action Together is showing the true meaning of community spirit.
Posting on social media, the Conservative MP said: “The team at Middleton in Action Together have been doing some amazing deeds to help people in our town. One of the overwhelming things to come out of this crisis has been the level of community spirit that is being demonstrated in so many ways. I hope this is one of the things that remains after we come through this.”
Speaking about the visit, Neil McClure said he was full of respect for the Heywood and Middleton MP for visiting Middleton in Action Together first-hand to see their hard work.
Become involved or get help
If you are in need, would like to donate or volunteer, please contact the Middleton in Action Together team in one of the following ways:
- Phone: 07568 765 379
- Email: email@example.com
- Meets: at Scout Hut opposite St Michael’s Church, Townley Street, Middleton. 6-7pm Monday to Friday, 10am-12noon Sundays
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/312726329708831
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