PLAY workers have switched to the serious business of feeding people as part of Keighley Big Local's response to coronavirus.

The regeneration group's All For Play team usually works with local families to organise play sessions and Forest School days.

But they have been diverted to spend their working days helping with deliveries from the Hainworth Wood Centre's food bank.

The initiative, entitled Doorstep Support, is operating in the neighbourhoods of Hainworth, Woodhouse, Spring Bank and Red Holt.

Big Local, which is funded through the national lottery, is run by residents in the Keighley Valley area, which runs from Ingrow to Riddlesden.

Big Local coordinator Shaun O'Hare said: He said: "When the government's guidelines came into play, first and foremost we wanted to ensure the food bank run from Hainworth Wood Community Centre continued to operate.

"The food bank provides for 25-30 people in need each week but the volunteers who run it week-in-week-out were self-isolating apart from one.

"We could provide a little more support as the Big Local play team, run by Get Out More CIC, were unable to deliver their weekly Forest Schools activities.

"This made available a couple of members of staff a few afternoons a week. With offers of support from Keighley Big Local Partnership members we have a consistent team of the same eight people to help each week."

Doorstep Support is registered with Keighley Community Hub, a network of local organisations working together to provide support during the Covid-19 crisis. 

Shaun added: "Different areas are responding in different ways, but we are encouraging all activity to be linked together as part of the Hub, to safeguard residents and make best use of resources.

"The Keighley hub is supporting vulnerable people by delivering them food (at a social distance) and making sure they have someone to talk to on the phone.

"Vulnerable means people who have no family and no local neighbours, and who cannot get to the supermarkets that are still open." 

Shaun said the Hub puts Big Local in contact with people who are self-isolating, so the Doorstep Support team could make an offer of help.

He said: "We also pick up lots of requests on our patrol. Most people enjoy a chat, ask us to provide essential items or nip to the shop for a paper. We have bought and then resold milk to a number of residents.

"We encourage good neighbour support, and with permission exchange telephone numbers of folk who have seen each other every day but might not be in touch online or by phone."

"The play team also make telephone calls to many older residents throughout the week and that has been very well received. We have referred residents suffering from high anxiety levels to well-being coaches."

Doorstep Support is running on Wednesdays and Fridays from around 11am to 2pm. Keighley's Morrison's store is providing bread and vegetables for the project, and Airedale Enterprise is helping residents get online.

Shaun added: "We hope to expand the amount of patrols and the area we cover, thanks to residents who have volunteered through Keighley Community Hub. We are working on a lot of residents ideas at the moment including an online Hainworth Community Centre shop."

Anyone needing help or wishing to volunteer should call the Bradford Council helpline on 01274 431000.