A vulnerable Erdington woman ‘knocked for six’ when her mental health support was stopped when lockdown began decided to reach out to fellow sufferers in a bid to improve her own wellbeing – and is now helping almost 1,000 people cope with the Coronavirus crisis.
Within days of creating Erdington Community Response, Jo Bull was inundated with requests from local residents, families and organisations to join the group. Its network now covers every part of the constituency with more than 800 members supported by an army of local volunteers.
Former church worker Jo, who moved to Erdington 13-years ago, said she has been awestruck by the response.
“It has left me gobsmacked, the response has been absolutely astonishing,” she said.
“When the support I was receiving was pulled overnight I felt very frightened and isolated. As someone who suffers poor mental health it really knocked me for six.
“But I’ve always been empowered to help others and I thought to myself there must be others in the same boat, people who need the same support I do.”
After doing some research online Jo decided to set up a Facebook group where vulnerable people could come together and support each other. Little did she know that was to be the catalyst for something far bigger.
“The theory was we’d just use it as a signpost, to help one another find whatever help we needed,” said Jo.
“But the response has been phenomenal and exceeded all my expectations. People have come together in a way I could never have imagined.”
Erdington Community Response currently has 843 members. It facilitates support to vulnerable and isolated residents through the delivery of weekly food parcels and mobilises hundreds of volunteers to deliver bespoke support wherever essential needs have been identified.
The group is a member of the Erdington COVID19 Taskforce alongside Birmingham City Council, West Midlands Police and organisations like Witton Lodge Community Association.
Chief Officer at Witton Lodge, Afzal Hussain, said the group has had a huge impact on the local community.
“It’s a truly inspiring story and all credit must go to Jo for having the belief and tenacity to create the group and organise things in such a way that so many people benefit” he said.
“We work closely with Erdington Community Response in delivering support where it is needed in the constituency and it is these types of partnerships which are crucial to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our residents at this time.”
For details on how Erdington Community Response, Witton Lodge Community Association and the other members of the Erdington Covid19 Taskforce could help you please visit: www.erdingtonlocal.com/covid-19-local-support