As a Quality Assurance Inspector for EDF, Bob Robson can normally be found examining meter installations for faults and corrections. But since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, countless EDF colleagues, including Bob, have selflessly volunteered to deliver essential prescription medicines to vulnerable patients across the UK.
We spoke to Bob to find out exactly what it’s like to step forward and support his local community during lockdown.
How did you hear about the scheme and why did you want to sign up?
Shortly after the UK went into lockdown, EDF sent an email to all its employees asking if anyone would like to offer their services as a volunteer, to help companies such as Boots deliver essential prescription medicines to those in need.
I signed up because I wanted to do something useful with my time. Helping the community is really rewarding and I’m glad to be playing my part. It also helps me personally as it allows me to keep some sort of routine. EDF has been really supportive of its workforce during this time so I’m pleased to be able to help them in supporting the community.
How long have you been volunteering and what are the main things you have been doing?
I have been volunteering for around three weeks now and usually cover the morning shift. A normal day consists of going to the depot and being briefed on my work for the day. Then I’ll go to the pharmacy to collect my deliveries and start my route. I usually have between 20 and 27 deliveries per day, dropping off medicines to vulnerable members of the community who are usually elderly, as well as making deliveries to a few care homes along the way.
Had you volunteered before taking on this role?
I’ve helped friends with fundraising for small charities, but have never volunteered on a large-scale like this before. A big factor is that I’m usually working so don’t have the time, but this has given me the opportunity to help those who are really in need, which is a great feeling.
What has been the most rewarding part of volunteering? Do you get to speak to the people you are delivering to?
Everyone that I deliver to is really grateful for our work as they can’t get out to pick up their medicines for themselves, whether that be because of physical restrictions or fear of being in public during this time. Some of the people I deliver to don’t see anyone else all day, so seeing me provides some much needed human interaction. A number of the deliveries I make are to regular customers too, so I’ve been able to get to know some of them - I would never usually have the opportunity to do this so I feel very lucky.
How do you feel projects like this are working in the community?
Projects like this are giving our community more options during this time. Some people physically can’t leave the house and some feel worried about the prospect of being around other people, so we’re enabling people to have the option to stay at home if they need or choose to. This pandemic is affecting so many people’s mental health so if projects like this can take away even a small amount of stress, it’s doing a great job.
There is a massive workforce in the local community playing their part. Whether that means keeping the water and electricity running, cleaning the streets, or working for the NHS, everyone is pulling together to make a difference. The sense of community spirit has been lovely to see.