TEENAGE eco warrior Joe Brindle has turned his thoughts from saving the planet to helping people in his home town of Devizes survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Joe, 17, who is a sixth former at Devizes School spurred his clergyman father Keith into acting quickly to set up Devizes COVID19 Support.

Dr Brindle, who is vicar of St Mary’s Church, Devizes, said: “It was Joseph’s idea. He got in touch with me to say ‘we have to do something now’ and I realised he was right.”

The group sprung into action with the backing of Devizes Churches Together and Devizes Town Council and held its first recruitment session on Wednesday followed by two others.

It now has more than 340 volunteers who have been in action this week collecting prescriptions, getting shopping for the elderly and vulnerable and doing other essential errands.

They are also having telephone chats with people feeling depressed and lonely.

Devizes Town Clerk Simon Fisher said: “The response to the call for volunteers has been amazing.

“We often talk about the community atmosphere in Devizes but this is it in action. At the town hall our whole team is now taking calls and the line will be open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm.

“At the moment we are putting everything apart from essential town hall work on hold so we can take as many calls as possible. We are trying to install a call centre type system so we can handle multiple calls at once.

“The phone was ringing all over the weekend and we will adjust our hours to meet demand.”

A special WhatsApp group has been created for volunteers so calls for help can be passed on efficiently to volunteers.

Devizes MP Danny Kruger visited St James Church to meet the volunteers. He said: “I am massively impressed with St James Church and the town council who have rowed in behind the church’s efforts to mobilise the community in support of isolated people.

“What communities in Wiltshire are doing during the crisis and support isolating households is nothing short of amazing.”

Joe Brindle, who has been at the forefront of an effort to get climate change made a compulsory subject in schools, and many other sixth formers from Devizes School are making good use of schools closing to help out.

His father said: “We have had people of all ages volunteering. It is great to see so many young people behind prepared to help.”

He said Devizes COVID19 will also be supporting other organisations such as Devizes Foodbank which is finding it tough to keep up supplies to vulnerable families during the crisis.

The group is supporting key workers as well as the elderly and vulnerable.

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