Saturday, 15 May 2021

Community hub honoured for service in pandemic

Community hub honoured for service in pandemic

THE Millstream Centre and community hub in Benson has received an award for supporting the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

The High Sheriff’s award recognises “the appreciation of the residents and people of the county for activity and contribution in enhancing life in the community”.

Volunteers trained in covid management and infection control set up a Millstream at Home service when the crisis began just over year ago.

They particularly helped vulnerable, elderly and disabled villagers with essential shopping, prescriptions, hot meals, food parcels and weekly telephone calls.

The community hub serves residents of not only Benson but also Ewelme, Preston Crowmarsh, Roke, Rokemarsh and Berrick Salome.

More than 200 volunteers delivered more than 3,000 meals and almost 1,000 food parcels.

The hub in Mill Lane was nominated for the award by the Bensington Society. The commendation certificate was presented by Amanda Ponsonby, the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire.

She said: “Initiatives like this one have been the silver lining of lockdown — the work they have done is wonderful.

“I am delighted to be able to present the Millstream community hub with this award.” Donna Mitchell, who received the award on behalf of the volunteers, said: “I’m very proud. It’s so nice to have the recognition and the encouragement.

“We are a small group of people and the award gives us the encouragement to keep going.”

Representatives of the four groups involved in setting up the hub — the Millstream Surgery’s patients panel, St Helen’s Church, Benson helpline and the centre itself — joined with volunteers for a short ceremony in the centre garden.

A spokesman said: “We were thrilled to receive this award. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers and supporters throughout the year for their work, enthusiasm and generosity.

“Without our wonderful volunteers and supporters we could not have provided any of the services. This reward is not just for the centre and staff, it is for you.”

Janet Burtt, who was one of the beneficiaries, said the help she received made being isolated during the first lockdown much easier to cope with.

“I am very grateful,” said Mrs Burtt, who is in her eighties and lives in Chiltern Close, Benson.

“I was expecting sporadic calls but I definitely wasn’t expecting to receive goodie bags filled with puzzles and activities and Easter eggs.

“It was lovely — someone rang me up regularly to see if I was all right. I feel very blessed even though I haven’t seen my own family in months.”

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The High Sheriff also honoured the First Steps Family Hub in Love Lane, Watlington.

The award recognised the hub’s work to support young families, parents and carers durng the pandemic.

The hub and its sister hub in Chalgrove have been closed but still provided online activities for toddlers, a support hotline and cooking classes on Zoom.

Maria Berrell, manager of the hub, said: “We were nominated by one of the mums who attends our classes.

“We were really overwhelmed and surprised to receive the award — it such an honour.”

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