A VOLUNTEER group has been described as the ‘best thing to ever happen for the community’, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Witney Land Army has been helping self-isolating residents with grocery and prescription deliveries, dog walking and reassuring phone calls.

The group has been split into five ward teams, each with between 15 and 20 volunteers, two coordinators and a linked councillor.

Each team has a dedicated phone line, enabling residents to get in touch with queries and problems.

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One of those residents is 71-year-old Flora McKenzie.

The retired carer broke her elbow in a fall and contacted the Land Army for help with food and prescription deliveries.

She said: “The Land Army is the best thing to ever happen for the community.

“Since my fall, me and my husband have become reliant on someone to help, and the Land Army was our saviour.

“They are there for anything, even a chat if needed.

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“It’s so easy to work with, I’ve got friends who use them and praise them so much.

“I would recommend if anyone needs help to contact them.

“Because of this awful situation, people are helping each other.

“Years ago, the community used to come together more, but thankfully the Land Army came to our rescue.”

Initially, information leaflets were printed free of charge by Windrush Press and safely distributed to 11,000 homes in the town.

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The Land Army has also been working with the Witney Community Fridge by collecting and delivering fresh food to self-isolating residents.

Luci Ashbourne, a town and district councillor, is one of the volunteers helping out.

“The week before the official lockdown, we knew serious complications would come up,” she said.

“We knew the Land Army would be a good platform to offer help.

“We got leaflets through doors so that those who aren’t online could get access to information.

Oxford Mail:

“Emergency food parcels go out once a week and we’ve now got a great system with the Co-op at Madley Park.

“They’ve set up a new phone system so payment can be taken, and then twice a day, the Land Army can deliver groceries.

“Volunteers have come together so practicably and effectively.

“One of the most remarkable achievements is that these teams have mobilised without being able to get together in person.”

The Witney Land Army was originally set up in October last year to provide volunteers for community projects, including the planting of the UK’s first Tiny Forest.