Meet Martin: A pandemic hero going above and beyond.
March 16, 2020 - exactly a year ago today. The date the world, for many, started to turn upside down. And whilst each day of the pandemic has brought unimaginable grief, struggle, and hardship, it's also shone a light on the extraordinary kindness of local people, and a community whose strength lies in its togetherness.
Martin Norman, 53, lives in Welwyn Garden City town centre and worked for most of his life delivering medical supplies. "My professional background has really helped," explains Martin who's been one of a team picking up prescriptions and shopping for people shielding since March. "Many of the precautions we've had to adopt are familiar to me, so it's been really good to be able to use my knowledge in that way to keep people safe." Martin sadly had to stop work ten years ago due to a complicated spinal condition. "Because I'm not able to work, helping others helps me come to terms with that."
Martin is part of the WGC Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group, a team of dedicated volunteers ready to support residents when they need it most.
We've been involved in taking phone requests, delivering prescriptions, shopping, and even helping a couple vulnerable adults move accommodation during the pandemic; hiring vans, moving boxes, doing whatever the group can to make sure people are looked after and feel welcomed to our town.
Collaboration with over a dozen likeminded people, all coming together as a team has managed to help the most vulnerable. With Julie, Philippa, Amber, Claire, Cat, Norman, Steph, Shannon, Sara, Heather, Liz, Steve, Kevin, Bal, Shilpi and more, all contributing unique talents and ideas, a lot has been achieved and it is hoped the group can continue even when the pandemic is over, to reassure and help those who may still feel vulnerable.
"It's been a team effort. Very few of the group knew each other before and have built lasting friendships. That must be the biggest positive to come from this", explains Martin. "We've connected with each other in a way I doubt we would if it weren't for the pandemic. People lead busy lives, but this has given us a chance to come together and get to know one another - safely, of course!"
If shopping, prescription dropping and organising house moves wasn't enough to keep Martin busy, he's also volunteered at the Garden City GP Practice, where he has immense admiration for the NHS staff. "I find it a privilege to help our NHS, knowing how much the work they're doing matters."
And as we look to the future, Martin is optimistic.
I believe we have a great garden city. I just hope people keep going over these next few months. We're at a fragile point where lives are still being lost. We're all craving normality, but we can't give up now - not until we've beaten this thing once and for all.