For many teenagers, being told they’re off school for the foreseeable future would be the perfect opportunity to load the games console up and shut the door. Not for Ben Thornbury.
Despite being only 14, he’s playing a vital role in the Wiltshire town of Malmesbury. Ben has created his own website, which gathers the contact details of people living in or near the area, who can offer their help to those who are having to self-isolate.
“I started the website because there was no support system in place to help people at the time that we were in isolation," he said. "I already knew how to create a website because I’ve got my own that I manage, so I was like ‘there’s no support system in place. Where can I go to if you’re in self-isolation?’ So I created it all on my own. I was expecting 10 volunteers and I’ve got nearly 70 now which is absolutely great.”
It started in Malmesbury, but Ben’s idea has been so successful that he’s now expanding and beginning to collate the details of individuals who are willing to help in surrounding areas.
“I’ve sort of become the central coordinator of the entire thing. So if you’re in self-isolation and you want some food, people come on to the contact page of the website, add all their details and then I become the coordinator and I go to the volunteer saying, ‘would you be able to help this person? She needs this doing.’ If they say yes, then I tell them all the information and then they communicate there. I always tell the volunteer to keep me updated and then once they’ve got what they need, I feel good cos they’ve got what they needed.
“I just want to keep expanding, get more volunteers and maybe add more support to the page because obviously in the next few weeks, more people are going to want more support, like in the Samaritans and different places like that. I just tried to have it all there so if anybody wants something like a therapist, there’s always someone there. I just want to have as many people doing as many different services as I can.
“I’ve had lots of emails saying ‘thank you very much’. I’ve had one person, who lived in London who needed some help with their residents down in the town of Malmesbury, so I got them in contact with a volunteer and they were saying ‘thank you Ben, very gratefully appreciated.’ I’m really proud of what I’ve done."
If you live close to Malmesbury and would like to help out, then please head to www.coronavirusmalmesbury.weebly.com to give Ben your details.
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