Please see below for the post pushed out on our social media channels (March 17 2020):
These are clearly uncertain times.
Like every other hospitality business in the land, we must now prepare for radical changes to our operation.
Aside from our moral imperative to do everything we can to protect this cherished community asset and our staff, there is now an even higher-order obligation.
First and foremost, we exist as a community asset and social hub. Our story is unique in that we came into being as the result of hundreds of community-spirited volunteers leaning in, over years, to get the Packhorse back up and running.
In so doing we discovered a couple of things.
Firstly, we have an unbelievable array of technical skills and talents in the immediate area.
Secondly, as a core team, we became pretty effective at coordinating these amazing volunteers to impressive overall effect.
As such, this serving-the-community logic now dominates our purpose and current thoughts.
If we have a role to play in coming weeks – where ever this situation takes us – it is to serve the local community as best we can; especially so with respect to the older and more vulnerable in our midst.
We don’t have all the answers here.
We also recognise we but are one small part of a much larger picture – but, notwithstanding, as a unique hub, a potentially valuable one.
So, in this communique, we share a few ideas as to how we can help those in our immediate geographical vicinity. We would welcome all other suggestions – so please do share back.
Potential support ideas:
(1) Helping to get key messages out
One of our real assets is our social media (and email newsletter) reach. If this can help get relevant messages out, we will of course do so.
To this end, there was yesterday a leaflet drop in the Southstoke area – with information as to a helpline telephone number and email address (such that any requests can be sent in to this point – to be distributed out to local helpers). If you live in the village and didn’t receive this leaflet, please let us know and we will pass the message on to the lead coords of this service – such that you do get the contact details.
(2) Group chat
One requested idea is that of setting up a community-wide online chat application such that self-isolated households (again, especially the older and more vulnerable) can stay connected. It might be we host communal “virtual gatherings” at regular, agreed intervals. As much to help maintain collective morale as anything.
(3) Technical support
We recognise that many may need help setting up with such technology and help in how to use it. Fortunately, there are many such technically able volunteers in the Packhorse friends team (per opening paragraph) and we can help coordinate this set up in coming days. It would be best to tackle this sooner rather than later. So if this is something you (or a neighbour) might need help with then (once we confirm the common solution) we can send someone over to help set up (or try and talk you through this remotely if in the vulnerable category).
(4) Prepared meals/food
Looking to days/weeks ahead, we might still look to keep the kitchen open to serve food for collection or delivery. Many delivery services don’t quite make it to the village of Southstoke, so this might be helpful for some. We have no idea what this service will entail. We will clearly need to examine the best options with food safety also in mind, work out best service hours for this etc. Just an idea we are open to if helpful.
(5) Village shop
We can also look to coordinate – via our own suppliers – the deliveries of food/home essentials i.e. essentially to set up a local shop and bakery (either as a physical shop – or again with volunteers to doorstep deliver).
Please let us know all other suggestions; we are “all ears”.
Our draft yesterday morning was going to say “we hope it never gets anywhere near to these ideas – this all shared in the spirit of sensible scenario planning” but, in the space of a day, it already has.
So, in closing, just to say there has perhaps never been a more important time for people to “pull together”. We know all friends and supporters of the Packhorse have this natural community-spirited inclination – so let’s continue to all set a fine example of what a “thousand generous hands can achieve”.
The Packhorse Team.