An interactive map is providing a helping hand during the Covid-19 crisis by signposting people to food, drink and other support services close to where they live.
Scores of businesses, organisations and community groups are providing a lifeline during the lockdown, delivering food boxes and ready meals for those who are isolating and supplies for residents in their local area.
With the help of communities, the South Downs National Park Authority has now created an online map of food and drink businesses offering services – attracting 2,300 unique views so far.
Many organisations have had to quickly adapt, with a pub offering food boxes and a museum opening a village supplies shop.
Since launching the map now features over 200 businesses and 74 community support groups.
Kat Beer, who works in the sustainable economy team and has been helping to put together the resource, said: “During this challenging time we felt it was important to help connect our communities by providing information on local food and drink suppliers, and other help available, particularly for the vulnerable and elderly.
“A big proportion of the National Park is made up of rural communities, many without access to large supermarkets, so we felt it was crucial to help signpost people to the resources available locally.
“We have created this interactive map so people can search and find suppliers, deliveries and support, local to where they live.
“We have been overwhelmed by how many food and drink businesses have been able to adapt their operations and support people to access food, drink and other supplies during this difficult time. Many communities have created vital help for vulnerable and elderly residents through volunteering their time. People can find details of the community support groups covering their area on the map.
“Although packed with useful information, the map is by no means exhaustive and our plan is to update it every week for as long as it is needed.”
The Royal Oak pub, in West Lavington, Midhurst, is one of those listed on the map and has been helping to provide fresh food boxes for the local community.
Frankie Swan, who runs the pub, said: “I set up a community hub at the pub, offering fresh meat and fish boxes, fresh fruit and vegetable boxes and an essentials shopping list. We’re also making weekly batches of ready meals, all of which are being delivered locally to residents.
“We are going to continue offering our food boxes as long as they are needed, but will be offering our new takeaway service from April 17. We have certain dishes on that menu which are available at 50 per cent off for all emergency services workers and anyone over 70.”
Meanwhile, further west in Selborne, Hampshire, the Gilbert White & The Oates Collections Museum has been working with the local pub, The Selborne Arms, to provide food supplies and deliveries.
Museum Director Steve Green said: “The museum is currently closed to visitors, but our cafe has effectively become the village shop, providing the essentials people need.
“This is a challenging time for everyone, but it’s been very rewarding to be able to do our bit to help the local community.”
People should follow the Government advice and practise social distancing if they are visiting a shop and should only travel close to home to pick up supplies. People should also contact the supplier before ordering or setting out to ensure availability of produce and delivery radius.