AN army of volunteers is being helped to shop for isolated and vulnerable people thanks to a grant from the Wiltshire Community Foundation.

Voluntary Action Swindon (VAS) has been given £5,000 from the Wiltshire and Swindon Coronavirus Response Fund to buy pre-paid store cards for its shoppers.

The organisation is working in partnership with Swindon Borough Council to support those over 70 told to shield at home by the government, self-isolating families and those who cannot get to a foodbank.

VAS CEO Pam Webb said: “The people who are being told to shield by the government are getting deliveries of food but they are very basic and, for instance, don’t include any pet food and they also don’t have any options for those who are diabetic or those who are celiac,” she said.

“Bearing in mind these people are those with the most serious underlying health conditions, going through chemotherapy for instance, they are not being delivered any fresh food.

“Swindon Borough Council are getting lots of requests for top-up deliveries to give these people the things they need for dietary requirements or to give them the goodness they need.”

Council staff are working flat out from a base at Lydiard Park assembling and delivering food parcels.

“They have done a fantastic job,” said Mrs Webb.

VAS has bought 42 pre-paid cards for supermarkets in Swindon and will be visiting hundreds of families and individuals to get shopping for them.

Mrs Webb said: “Volunteers will be given prepaid store card and they will swap the shopping list with the customer and then deliver the shopping outside the door with a receipt. Then, if they can afford it, the customer will pay us back and we will top up the store cards.”

The Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response Fund has broken through the £540,000 barrier and has already distributed more than £280,000 to almost 80 groups across the county.

“The Wiltshire Community Foundation grant has been so helpful in allowing us to get these store cards and meet the immediate need that’s out there,” added Mrs Webb.

“We are really grateful.”

Grants have been used by groups to provide hot meals, food parcels, counselling, equipment and staff to help vulnerable and isolated elderly people, rough sleepers, young families living in poverty and those suffering stress and anxiety.

To donate to the fund or find out how to apply for a grant, go to