HEALTH workers and the council in Royal Wootton Bassett are taking a lead in tackling problems caused by the coronavirus and the nationwide lockdown.

Within hours of its launch their social media group had dealt with calls from people in self-isolation and less than a week later it had attracted hundreds of members.

One of the founders of Royal Wootton Bassett Covid-19 mutual aid, town councillor and vascular access oncologist Caroline Down said: “We recognised that it was going to take the government time to set things up so we chose to do something now rather than wait.

“The town council members and others have got involved to ensure people know how to get help to get their shopping and other things.

“There’s a lot of us who work in the NHS so we are very aware of this impact it has and is going to have,” said Caroline, who works at the Great Western Hospital.

Fellow volunteer Sue Hughes said: “In the first 48 hour we had calls from people who are self-isolating.

“Living in the town for a while now I knew a lot of people have been here maybe 20 years or more. People here are usually elderly or look after children, they will need our help.

“I think when it comes to this town we’re always there to help each other. It might be their time to ask for help now but in the future it will be others.

"We’re here to be there each other, we’re like a big family.”

The idea is that those in need of help with advice, shopping, collecting medication and cheering up with a bit of company over the phone can get in touch with the group on Facebook.

Details about local shop opening hours, information on how services are being affected and morale-boosting posts all feature on the site.

And leaflets have also been dropped around town for those who aren’t social media users.

One of the admins, James Shannon, explained: “I got involved because I could see there could be quite a problem developing.

"I thought it would be worth getting it going so our people can help the community, I didn’t want to see anyone struggling especially as the elderly will be inside for 12 weeks.”

Bassett-based travel firm Imagine Cruising has worked with the group to set up a phone line and anyone who wants more information can email or call 01793 847472.