Buddy system helps local community during pandemic


At a time when many charities were struggling due to COVID restrictions, efforts from a West Sussex organisation have resulted in a much-needed boost for the local community.

Members of Selsey Community Forum set up the ‘Selsey Buddy Support’ scheme in early March (2020), having been worried about the effects the COVID lockdown would have on the more vulnerable members of their community.

Between March and July Selsey Community Forum led the local Covid mutual aid group as a partnership of voluntary, commercial and statutory organisations. Having recruited 140 volunteers, a ‘buddy’ was allocated to every street covering all 12,000 residents.

Over 18 weeks, buddies shared 2000 interactions with residents including shopping, collecting medicines, activity material, reading material, food supplies, cash provision, treats, phone calls, doorstep checks, emergency support and practical provision.

Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has provided the scheme with £2,000 from her Community Safety Fund to help enable the service to become permanently run from the Selsey Care Shop, home of the Forum charity.

About 75 volunteers are continuing and the scheme will continue to provide their normal services with some additions. The local community Warden will work with the buddies to disseminate community safety information and mobilise local support to combat anti-social behaviour, assisting mediation in neighbourhood disputes and noting suspicious activity.

PCC Katy Bourne said: “This scheme is a great example of the community spirit and pulling together to help one another that we have seen so much of over the last year.

“Since launching this Community Safety funding scheme in December 2013 I have allocated nearly £1.6 million to support a wide range of crime reduction and community safety initiatives and it has made even more of a difference during lockdown months.

“During this pandemic more than ever, volunteers deserve our thanks, as many of them have unselfishly increased their hours to make a positive contribution to their communities.

“I’m so pleased to be able to support these types of initiatives that enable people to come together, help one another and make their local communities an even safer place to live and work.”

They now have a full-time paid administrator, a part time outreach worker for coordination and training and a Steering Group will guide the scheme.

Mike Nicholls who helps run the Selsey Community Forum said: “Generous funding has enabled Selsey Buddy Support to form lots of local partnerships to keep vulnerable people safe and well during the pandemic. We are very grateful for the provision from PCC. It truly is an amazing experience to live in such a compassionate and neighbourly community.”