Dereham groups recognised with blue plaques for work during pandemic

Dereham Cares and The Meeting Point were both awarded blue plaques for the work they did during the height of the pandemic. 

Dereham Cares and The Meeting Point were both awarded blue plaques for the work they did during the height of the pandemic. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

Two Dereham community groups have been recognised for the resilience they showed during the pandemic.

Dereham Cares and The Meeting Point were both honoured with blue plaques on Friday, March 18 by Melinda Raker, a Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk, for the work they carried out during the pandemic.

Alison Webb, the founder of Dereham Cares, was joined by volunteers at the town’s windmill for the presentation, before Mrs Raker moved onto The Meeting Point’s base on St Withburga Lane, near the Breckland Business Centre to hand out the plaque to its manager, Shonette Mooney, along with volunteers.

Alison Webb (right), the founder of Dereham Cares, and Melinda Raker (left),

Alison Webb (right), the founder of Dereham Cares, and Melinda Raker (left), a Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk, as Dereham Cares was presented with a plaque for its work during the pandemic. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

The lasting memorials have been handed out to recognise the work carried out by people across the town as they helped each other through challenging times.

Mrs Webb highlighted the work done by herself and the 165 volunteers, who throughout the lockdowns were collecting prescriptions and shopping for those shielding, and making phone calls and visiting people to tackle isolation.

“It is extremely humbling to recognise that the community were there at times of need such as this, that they will come forward and they will volunteer to help other people in some ways,” she said.

Alison Webb, the founder of Dereham Cares, was joined by volunteers at the town’s windmill for the presentation of a plaque

Alison Webb, the founder of Dereham Cares, was joined by volunteers at the town’s windmill for the presentation of a plaque by a Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk, Melinda Raker. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

“It's the same as the example we've seen with all the appeals for Ukraine, the community spirit is a wonderful thing and Dereham and Toftwood has plenty of power.”

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She added that some of those volunteers are now becoming carers as a result of their voluntary work.

Ms Mooney said the team stepped up in the pandemic, starting by supplying meals for its service users. Then they called and checked in on people as they too battled isolation across Dereham.

Manager of The Meeting Point, Shonette Mooney (left) with Melinda Raker (right), a Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk.

Manager of The Meeting Point, Shonette Mooney (left) with Melinda Raker (right), a Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

The team also cares for those with dementia in the town.

The 59-year-old said all the team worked extremely hard during the pandemic, adding: “Our work was to make sure that our members knew that we were here and the longer Covid went on the more we upped our game to make sure we were there for people.

“All the volunteers stepped up for the people to make sure they were not isolated and lonely, through everything we’ve come out the other side and in a way we felt we were never away."

staff at The Meeting Point in Dereham

From left to right - Alison Webb (Breckland Councillor), Barbara D'Arts (chairman of trustee at The Meeting Point), Melinda Raker (a Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk), Carol Knight (volunteer), Shonette Mooney (Manager of The Meeting Point), Louise Iverson (Deputy Manager), and Claire Raper (Cook) - Credit: Aaron McMillan

The blue plaque has a quote from Harriet Martineau.

The blue plaque has a quote from Harriet Martineau. - Credit: Aaron McMillan