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  • Caroline Drummond

Update on Community Support in Rye & District

This provides a brief update on community support in Rye and District since the process was established in early March for operation since lockdown on 23 March. 

Rye Mutual Aid remains the focus for community support in over 21 zones in Eastern Rother from Westfield to Camber and Rye to Beckley.  Activity remains coordinated by a central team of RMA and REACT through "dispatchers" in each zone to volunteers on the ground.  

A good deal of work has been completed on the supply of food and medicines to facilitate third party collection and delivery. There is also a telephone contact system for those wanting a chat. Nearly 800 requests of help from residents have been answered to date.

We monitor closely governmental guidance and safety.  Although demand has flattened large numbers of vulnerable continue to benefit for the support on offer which adds value to the work by other constituted organisations. 

Several projects have and are being pursued to complement the main effort.  There is now a sewers club making face coverings and a fundraising arm.  We are looking to see if the WI groups can help with this.

Communications have been effective by using Zoom groups, email and social media. The RMA website has been professionally constructed; is full of relevant information and cited as good practice within national mutual aid. Periodic leaflet updates and posters have been sent to the population, Parishes and the RMA structure. Pieces have appeared in Rye News. 

We are just reviewing the beneficiaries to see whether any pockets of vulnerable have been missed.  Following anecdotal reports of isolated and vulnerable people, yet to be reached, we are looking again at sheltered accommodation, social housing and static caravans. 

RMA remains in close touch with Rye Foodbank and have helped with support.  Demand is up five-fold and food is being delivered by volunteers.  Costs are counted on thousands. We have written to the MP about the £16m allocated for food support.  Rye could benefit on the longer term from some of that. 

We have embarked on a general review of activities to establish whether all needs are being met and importantly where RMA goes in the future. There is enormous community effort under way particularly by younger people (30 to 45-year olds).  It would benefit everybody if some of this could be captured for the future. 

It is too early yet to decide whether the recent (13 May) shift to ease lockdown will have an impact as some return to work and more people leave their homes. There is a risk that with more visitors to the coast, including those coming from London to 2nd homes, there will be increased risks for residents. 

Importantly RMA and REACT remain politically and ideologically neutral.  Despite pressure occasionally to "mission creep" the structure remains focused on to adding value in specific areas of the community support work of the Authorities.

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