NHS – 5 Steps to Mental Wellbeing


1 of the top 5 things to do to improve your wellbeing is made connections with others. Could you or someone you know benefit from a friendly call from one of our check and chat volunteers?

Another is to give to others – could you become a volunteers yourself? We are looking to move our volunteer service to provide for the need in our community – do you have any skills you could give?’

‘Get in touch’ Call us on 01622 370527 or text/whatsapp on 07854 390408 or email us at thorpehelpinghands.com to find out more.

Thorpe Helping Hands volunteer group supports local community during coronavirus crisis

Thorpe Helping Hands volunteer group supports local community during coronavirus crisis

A grassroots support group has been set up by Thorpe St Andrew residents, who have recruited volunteers to help those in the community affected by the coronavirus lockdown.

Called Thorpe Helping Hands, the volunteer group has been supporting fellow residents since early April, assisting those who are self-isolating with shopping, prescriptions, food parcels, posting letters, gardening and ensuring that “no one is left behind”.

As many people don’t have access to social media and the internet, volunteers printed leaflets that were delivered to every household in the parish, informing the community that help and support was available. Thorpe Helping Hands has now recruited more than 70 local volunteers and supported more than 60 individuals and families in need during the coronavirus crisis.

Local businesses and individuals have also donated food and other necessities to support vulnerable families and individuals in the community – but more donations are needed, such as food essentials, personal items and play materials for children such as books, puzzles and art supplies.

Inga Kenny, Thorpe Helping Hands’ coordinator, said: “We are very grateful to the local people, businesses and organisations who have already been very generous – giving their time and food donations, puzzles, games and books to help those who have been hit by this crisis. There are, however, still many families and individuals in need of food and other essentials, to support not only their physical health but also their mental wellbeing.”

The group is also working with Lionwood Infant and Junior schools to help support their vulnerable families, with food parcels put together with donations from local businesses and individuals.

Glenda Prior, parent support advisor at Lionwood, said: “The support is needed in our community as it enables us to connect with our whole community. It lets us reach out and care for one another, hold out a hand or a voice when people are at their most vulnerable.

“It links communities together, to understand one another and the needs – not to hide but to share everybody’s abilities, to all be equal. Community cohesion is vital in order for us all to belong and be safe.

“This support may help to put us back on this road when the world had sped up so much and was leaving lots of us behind. The support from Thorpe Helping Hands is not just a provision for supporting those in need but a key part to forming a new community that recognises and understands everyone’s needs.”

The group organisers aim to establish Thorpe Helping Hands as a permanent Norfolk Good Neighbour scheme, with the support of Community Action Norfolk (CAN).

This will help the valuable work to continue, and also offer support and safeguarding for volunteers.

Community Action Norfolk is offering guidance, policies and links to other groups, to bolster the support offered by Thorpe Helping Hands both during and after the pandemic.

Thorpe Helping Hands’ message is: “If you are in a household that needs help in any way, please don’t hesitate to call us. We also offer a ‘check and chat’ service by phone to support people feeling isolated or anxious during this crisis. No one gets left behind.”

Thorpe Helping Hands talk to That’s TV East about how we are supporting our own.

Samantha Mayling, is the Secretary of Thorpe Helping Hands as well as the media and PR person within the group. Sam has been volunteering with us since the beginning and is also a regular delivery volunteer driver helping to deliver food to Lionwood Schools vulnerable families in need.

Celebrating our successes and our support of residents in Thorpe St Andrew and the Thorpe Hamlet areas of Norwich.

Weekly Support from Pilling Park Community Association Team

The following gentleman are unstoppable, supporting us every Friday, picking, packing, carrying boxes, moving boxes, helping the volunteers load their cars!

Working week in week out to ensure the children and their families of Thorpe Hamlet do not go hungry. Thanks for making it happen each week – your support, hard work and good humour really make a difference!

Working alongside Glenda Prior who is part of the Association and also the Parent Support Liaison Officer at Lionwood Schools.

Guidone (Guido) Baldassarre – Pilling Park Community Association – Chair
Terry Prior – Pilling Park Community Centre
Ray Dyker – Pilling Park Community Centre
Glenda Prior – Pilling Park Community Association & Parent Support Liaison Officer at Lionwood Schools
Food Boxes Delivered on Friday afternoons – for almost 90 families at Lionwood Schools

Thorpe Helping Hands Ramps up Support for the Community

With the summer heatwave in full swing, volunteers at Thorpe Helping Hands have been tirelessly supporting people across their community.

Last week’s food parcel delivery was the biggest yet, with 87 households receiving much-needed supplies – up from about 70 during the previous week.

It’s all thanks to generous donations from local firms and individuals, and hard-working teams of volunteer packers and delivery drivers.

Pilling Park Community Centre is a hive of activity on Fridays, as the food and other essentials are carefully allocated then sent out to households – with social distancing of course!

We’ve also heard back from some of those who are receiving parcels to say how much the deliveries have been appreciated.

Our ‘Check & Chat’ service is also expanding. We have five people who make weekly befriending calls to 10 residents who are lonely or isolated, and who appreciate the chance for a catch-up.

Meanwhile, five others are training to become a ‘Check and Chat’ volunteer and more are welcome.

‘Check and Chat’ was featured in an interview on Radio Norfolk, when Inga Kenny – one of the organisers of Thorpe Helping Hands – spoke about the service as part of Loneliness Awareness Week.

Our service was also the subject of an article on the Lumi website, which collects and shares information about community spaces, activities and volunteer groups.


Elsewhere, the work being done by Thorpe Helping Hands has been featured by Community Action Norfolk, a charity which supports volunteer groups across the county.


Other articles are in the pipeline as we continue to spread the word about our services – which means we can recruit more volunteers and reach more people who may need support.

We have more young people signing up as volunteers and they’re helping to sew face masks, and pack up the food parcels each Friday.

Several of our teenage volunteers are also writing letters to residents in care homes, to keep the older folk in touch with the younger generations.

The group is making great progress with its plans to become a permanent fixture within the community. We have established a committee and we also have several other volunteers who are keen to be involved with developing different initiatives, such as community activities, social media, support for volunteers, skill-share/Good Neighbours scheme, possible food co-operative and more.  

The committee is working with other local organisations and charities to make sure we have the correct procedures and due diligence in place, which will enable us to establish Thorpe Helping Hands as a long-term mutual aid group. 

One of our amazing volunteers, Sophia Spurling, with her deliveries
And another one of our amazing regulars, Mary Merrick, with her deliveries.

Thorpe Helping Hands tackles loneliness with ‘Check & Chat’ phone call service

Press release – June 11 2020

A volunteer group in Thorpe St Andrew is keen to contact residents who would like regular befriending calls to combat loneliness and isolation during the Covid-19 crisis.

Thorpe Helping Hands – a grassroots group set up in response to the crisis – has established a free ‘Check & Chat’ service which is proving popular with users.

With Loneliness Awareness Week taking place from June 15 – 19, the group hopes to highlight the service to those who might be feeling lonely, isolated or anxious.

Katie, coordinator at Thorpe Helping Hands, said: “We already have five volunteers who regularly ring 10 residents in Thorpe St Andrew and Thorpe Hamlet. We also have more volunteers undergoing training and more residents lined up for the service.

“The lockdown means that many folk are self-isolating, so they have been stuck at home since March, with very little human contact, which can be depressing and worrying.”

“We can collect shopping or prescriptions for them but this befriending service is a real bonus on top of those errands.”

“Our volunteers ring for a weekly chat and help keep the residents’ spirits up. We can check all is well and build a friendly rapport.”

“We have been very impressed by the enthusiasm of our volunteers and we are getting lovely feedback from the residents about how this is making them feel.”

All the volunteers are vetted before they begin the calls and are given training about issues such as safe-guarding and communication skills.

There is support from the Thorpe Helping Hands team so any issues that may arise can be quickly sorted. These can range from quick errands such as delivering TV listings magazines up to regular weekly shopping trips.

Volunteers include those who have experience talking to vulnerable adults and all of them make a valuable contribution in supporting the residents who are accessing this scheme.

One volunteer Mrs M has a rota of five residents who she has been ringing each week since mid-May.

“It is lovely to chat to these folk and find out about their lives and memories of times past,” she said.

“They all seem delighted to talk to me when I ring and they will chat away merrily for up to an hour – it’s sometimes hard for me to get a word in edgewise.”

“We can check they’re OK for food, shopping, medication and other essentials and also make sure they’re up to date with the latest advice about Covid-19.

“As they are not going outside, it’s vital for them to keep in touch with what’s happening locally, so we chat about local shops, garden centres, surgeries and other places that they might visit when they are able to get out and about.”

“Some of them tell me that they don’t speak to another person from one week to the next, so the service that THH offers is crucial.”

Mrs C is one of the service users who receives calls from Mrs M every week.

She said: “I feel the calls are helpful. When I get the calls, I think there’s not much to say – but then I never stop talking, as it’s so nice to talk to someone friendly.

“I do enjoy talking to people. I am surprised that I have so much to talk about. People are stuck at home day after day, so it’s important to have phone calls.”

Another Thorpe Helping Hands coordinator, Inga, said THH is keen to offer the service to other residents.

If you or someone you know would like to take advantage of the ‘Check and Chat’ service, please contact on the THH freephone number: 01622 370527.

As well as the ‘Check and Chat’ service, THH offers other support for local families, such as deliveries of essentials, running errands and help with shopping.

Face Mask Sewing Group Calls for More Sewing & Delivery Volunteers

A group of volunteers sewing protective face masks for care home staff and key workers in Norfolk is asking for more help with sewing and deliveries.

The group was started by Norwich seamstress Libby and her 12-year-old daughter India, who answered a plea on Facebook for 60 face masks.

There are now 17 members of the group, donating their time, skills and materials to help tackle shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus crisis.

Together they have sewn 400 face masks and 50 laundry bags which have been delivered to care home staff and key workers across the county – as well as 500 ear-savers, which have been crocheted by group member Charlie.

Libby runs her own upcycling business called The Way Of Tea, making sustainable clothes and home textiles.

After seeing the Facebook plea, she designed a three-layered mask, with a cotton lining, an inner layer of non-woven fabric and a water-repellent polyester outer layer.

The design is based on BMJ Open research which showed that non-woven fabric and polyester layers reduce the spread of micro-organisms in water droplets far more effectively than cotton.

Libby and India stitched 60 masks in two-and-a-half days for Dussindale Park care home in Norwich.

They have now been joined by 15 other volunteers, who are sewing masks, crocheting ear-savers and making deliveries – but more help is desperately needed.

Libby said: “We’ve donated masks, ear-savers and laundry bags to care home staff, teachers, community nurses, vulnerable members of the public and key workers.

“We will make masks for anyone in a vulnerable situation who needs them, as far as our resources will allow.

“We have been inundated with generous donations of bedsheets, polyester clothing, tents, sleeping bags and elastic to help us in our mission. Donations of materials from the community have been incredible.”

However, the non-woven fabric is difficult to source and expensive, because of high demand, so the volunteers are using their own money or funds donated by relatives to buy the material.

One volunteer driver, Andrew, who runs ESP Merchandise, has set up a GoFundMe page to help purchase the essential fabric.

Other drivers include Thomas – who owns Ronaldo Ices in Norwich – and Catherine, who works for a carers’ organisation.

Sewers include Ida – who found out that laundry bags needed, so care home staff can safely change out of their uniform – and Anita, who succeeded in her mission to sew 80 bags just before reaching her 80th birthday.

To donate via GoFundMe page for non-woven fabrics and elastic see:

To get involved, contact the group via WhatsApp at https://chat.whatsapp.com/LFfqkBdC3AaJhqCronqZsk or leave a message for Catherine on 01603 614941.

To see how to make a mask, visit Libby’s website here: