Runners and riders go the extra mile to support vulnerable residents

Sports men and women from across Cherwell have united to support their communities by delivering 1,300 prescriptions to self-isolating residents during COVID-19.

Published: Monday, 27th July 2020

Volunteers from Banbury Harriers Athletics Club, Banbury Star Cyclists’ Club and Alchester Running Club in Bicester have cycled and run their way to locations across the district as part of Cherwell District Council’s Oxfordshire Supply Runs service. Kidlington and the surrounding area community group, KASA, have offered a similar programme to help residents who are self-isolating there.

The initiative, which is coming to an end on Friday (31 July), sought to alleviate pressure on pharmacies by using local athletes as the go-between for patients, delivering much needed medication to those unable to leave their homes. The runners and riders have covered a combined distance of 4,300 miles. That’s the equivalent of running from Cherwell to Turkey and back!

Cllr Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’s lead member for health and wellbeing said: “This impressive scheme goes right to the heart of what community is all about. At times of extreme difficulty, we’ve seen volunteers who have really gone the extra mile, supporting the most vulnerable people in our district by delivering essential medication. I can’t thank them enough for their efforts in taking part in this excellent project.”

The scheme is now drawing to a close in Banbury and Bicester, with many shielding residents being able to leave their homes and volunteers returning to work.

Robert Kerr, Chairman of Alchester Running Club has helped to organise the service throughout Bicester. Robert said: “I never had to wait longer than two minutes to get a positive response for a pickup and delivery, which tells you how the club has reacted to the scheme. If we have helped in a small way to easing some patients lives, then that is gratifying.”

Paul Dean, President of Banbury Star Cyclists’ Club said: “The delivery scheme has allowed the 30 volunteer riders to continue riding their bikes, enjoy the great weather and very light traffic conditions whilst making a positive contribution to the wellbeing of so many residents. Along the way we’ve met some wonderful residents who have greatly appreciated the continuity of their medical supplies and also helped further raise the profile of the club and cycling in general.”

James Charles, Vice Chairman of Banbury Harriers Athletics Club said: “Being part of this initiative has been a real highlight for the club. At a very difficult time, our members have come together and made a real difference to people’s lives. We’ve covered countless miles and visited areas of the town we’ve never been to before. I am extremely proud of everyone who’s been a part of Oxfordshire Supply Runs.”

In Kidlington, KASA has committed to continuing their work to support the local community. David Cairns from KASA said: “We have supported more than 250 households throughout lockdown, from shopping and prescription collection to allotment tending. We had 140 volunteers, which is now shrinking to 60 or so, but we continue to serve many of those ‘customers’ even though they are able to get out and about.”

Oxfordshire Supply Runs will make their final deliveries in Banbury and Bicester at the end of July. Should there be any subsequent need for the service, Cherwell has committed to restarting the initiative to support those in need.

Any residents who are still unable to leave the house after July, and have no means of collecting their medication, can contact the dedicated shielding helpline for ongoing help with prescription deliveries on 01865 89 78 20 or email shield@oxfordshire.gov.uk. They can also request help from NHS Volunteer Responders at www.goodsamapp.org/ or calling 0808 196 3646.