Surrey 4×4 response is one of a number of similar charity groups around the UK that comprises of small numbers of trained 4×4 owners who work in the community when the need arises. In Surrey we have 60 or so members, all with a 4×4 vehicle, first aid and DBS certificates, and a willingness to turn out and help. Surrey’s most notable events in the recent past were helping move people and equipment during serious flooding on the Thames, taking nurses and care workers around when it snowed heavily, and this week helping Surrey County Council find vulnerable and elderly persons who are self-isolating.
Many people who have underlying health conditions or are at risk from a virus have been told by letter from the Government or local Council that they must be shielded from contact with others. The Council had attempted to contact all those in need, but inevitably the data sets are not accurate or other things happen that mean contact has been lost. Surrey 4×4 were called in to assist in finding those who could not be contacted by phone.
We have a tried and tested command and control capability and all know each other well from working on other projects (or just playing in the mud with Land Rovers), so it takes just a few hours to mobilise a good percentage of the team and start to make a difference. The first list had 77 names of potentially vulnerable people who had not been contacted. 8 of us spent Tuesday afternoon driving round Surrey following trails and postcodes to establish contact with every one of them, or at least be fairly sure from neighbours that all was well.
It was a rewarding exercise because every person I saw appreciated the effort to get in touch. Many were living with a close family member so had no real issues to report, but some had concerns about medical supplies and shopping deliveries, especially with very young children in the house, so the report reflected those needs. Just one house call had to be referred to the Police for follow up as there were no clues as to where the occupant might be.
So we have tidied up the database with lots of useful first-hand information and the Council can now concentrate on the small number of people who really need the help. If only Mabel had told them she was staying on the south coast with her daughter … Another 50 or so on the Wednesday list, and I’ve said I can do Thursday as well.
Most people were where they were expected to be, but had changed phone numbers, had the phone disconnected, been unavailable each time the call was made, or just not answered the phone in time. Some are disabled, some live alone, some had gone to stay with family for the duration, and some had sadly passed away before we got to them. We ended up on traveller sites, in blocks of flats and in the posh leafy lanes of Surrey tracking them all down and filling in the report forms.