RESIDENTS are putting their communities first in these times of uncertainty and uniting to look out for vulnerable and elderly residents in west Dorset.

Support groups offering help with shopping, medicines and other errands have been set up on social media.

A couple have started a coronavirus support group in Bridport to do something positive ‘instead of fighting over loo roll’.

Alex Stephen and her husband Carl Lewis have launched the Bridport Coronavirus Support Group on social media to help residents facing self-isolation.

She told the Bridport News: “The group came about because my father is 80 and falls into the bracket of self-isolation. Many people don’t have a support network of loved ones or people to ask for help.

“It’s about trying to help those vulnerable or elderly people who don’t have family nearby or support around them. The group helps to pinpoint who they are and offer services to help them.

“We’re encouraging people to think about their neighbours and people who live alone.

“We will be helping them by picking up their medication or helping get their shopping and doing it all as per the guidelines, so dropping it at the door – that’s the idea behind it.”

Alex said there has been lots of interest on social media.

She said: “It’s nice to do something good, there’s so much negative press, everything is just horrible – people fighting over loo rolls, it’s all so depressing.

“But everyone wants to help out because it’s something nice.

“Bridport is great for that, it’s a hub for people who like to get involved and do something for their community.

Alex added: “We’ve already had one man who lives in Manchester get in touch because his mum lives in Melplash. Someone from the area asked him to private message them and said they would help.

“We’re hoping to grow it into something useful and do something good for people who might need it.”

If you are elderly and don’t have access to the internet and need help you can contact the group via the telephone number 07401243585.

The phone number will be manned for one hour a day from 10am to 11am to receive calls and will otherwise go to answerphone.

All calls will be directed onto the group for people local to help.

In Lyme Regis, people are coming together, volunteering to pick up shopping and run errands for those who may be struggling to get out.

Lyme Regis Community Support was set up on Facebook by Victoria Cottle and Grace Herbert to have a central place to have those who can help and spread the word to those who need help.

Victoria said: “Lyme Regis has a brilliant community spirit and it has shown that in the outpouring of support in the last few days. We have been overwhelmed with kind offers and support.

“Our biggest aim is to make sure that the vulnerable, elderly or isolated members of the community weren’t left feeling alone or without provisions.

“It is really wonderful to see the community pulling together in such uncertainty and remembering that we are all connected.”

Cllr Cheryl Reynolds, who is also helping to co-ordinate the support, said: “We need to do something.

“I have tried to find co-ordinators for each road so they can drop leaflets and so many people have rung to say how grateful they are.”

The group will be putting fliers through doors to local residents with contact details of someone in their street they can contact with for support. Alternatively, they can call Cheryl Reynolds on 01297 443814 or 01297 691492.

In Beaminster, a network of volunteers has been set up to help with extreme cases where emergency support is needed from residents, as well as local businesses who need help to get deliveries to those who are self-isolating. Residents are also encouraged to help their immediate neighbours, friends and families.

The initiative is urging anyone in the community who is in need of help to contact the town council who will be able to liaise with volunteers to provide support.

Cllr Robin Cheeseman, vice chairman of Beaminster Town Council, said: “We are living in unprecedented times and with a huge strain already place on our National Health Service, we feel that as a community it is important to do what we can to support each other through these challenging times.

“The most important message that we’re aiming to spread is that there is emergency support available beyond friends, families and neighbours and that nobody needs to feel isolated and alone.

“We have an incredible database of volunteers already putting their names forward to step in and help in any way that they can.”

A similar initiative has been set up in Thorncombe, with fliers put through doors with information about local volunteers who want to help those self-isolating by doing shopping, dog walking or collecting medicines or parcels.

Those in Thorncombe who need help should call Simone on 07968 781269 or 01460 432095 or Cerri on 07731 342304. They can also email or search for Thorncombe Coronavirus Support on Facebook.

Broadwindsor Group Parish Council is also committed to supporting the community. Parish councillors are available to provide practical help such as delivery of food supplies and medication to those self-isolating. Call the clerk on 01308 488440 or email

Members of Marshwood Vale Young Farmers Club are offering to do shopping for the most vulnerable members of the community and those isolating. It will be doorstep delivery and people can call 07901 336382 or contact the group on Facebook.

Find out what local businesses are doing during the coronavirus outbreak here and which venues are closed here