A NEW group has been set up to help isolated and vulnerable people get through the coronavirus lockdown.

Tim Swinyard launched Swindon Support in a bid to form a volunteer army to do shopping for people who can’t get out, or to call and check in on those who might be lonely.

Already more than 3,000 have signed up to offer their services.

The Swindon borough councillor for Lydiard and Freshbrook said: “The idea came when I was talking to some friends of mine, one of whom is in group particularly vulnerable, and so can’t go out at all.

“I thought there would be a lot of people in the same situation and it would be good to get together people who can help.

“I was very proud to see so many people sign up so quickly. At first all the requests for help were coming through me, but now we’re on Facebook and the web, when a request for help comes in, often people are just saying they’ll take it on.”

The group offers two services – shopping and running errands, and a chat with those who would like human contact.

For those doing shopping runs or other errands, volunteers are sent in pairs for the safety of those needing help and for specialist assistance volunteers will have the right qualifications and police background checks.

The chat service uses the telephone rather than visits in person.

Coun Swinyard said: “We do have some people volunteering who are in vulnerable groups, so we don’t want to put them at risk, but they can ring someone up to see they’re okay.

“We have some mental health specialists as well who are able to make sure people are okay, and we have a lot of military veterans, who aren’t in particularly vulnerable groups, taking part.”

Coun Swinyard said the group has been co-ordinating with Swindon Voluntary Action to make sure that resources are used where they are needed.

He said: “There are a number of groups that have been set up, so we’re making sure we’re not conflicting with them.”

To request help visit www.swindonsupport.uk or call 07564 073931.