The world has been living through a global pandemic for nearly a full year now. With COVID-19 consuming our lives and changing what we saw as “normal”, we have all had to adapt, change activities, routines and most of us have probably spent more time on walks than ever before. As a charity run on fundraising and donations, the pandemic hit the Rosie May Foundation hard. Through the incredible work of 100s of volunteers the charity has been able to aid the local community more than ever before with the help of “Rosie the little Pink Tuk-Tuk”. Charity founder, Mary Storrie recently took the time to reflect about how the charity has changed and developed through the pandemic through the last year, the plans changed but the local impact has been heartwarming and extremely rewarding for everyone involved. The Rosie May Foundation have been able to deliver over 6,450 smiles and hosted 1000s of doorstop chats to those isolating or shielding.
Initial Impacts and Responses
Just under 12 months ago at the end of March 2020 “small charities were closing at an alarming rate and 40% had closed their doors for good” due to the pandemic. Obviously a cause for concern, the Rosie May foundation pivoted their resources to support their local community, alongside their existing global community which they continued to support.
An outreach community programme was set up, utilising “Rosie the Pink Tuk Tuk” and a network of furloughed volunteers to lead the programme. The Rosie May foundation was now able to help their own community in crisis, by delivering essential items to the vulnerable and those isolating. But it wasn’t all about what was being delivered it was about how they were delivered. Rosie the Pink Tuk Tuk was delivering smiles! Mary Storrie, founder said “the human interaction of a doorstep chat, and the good cheer that Rosie delivers is as important as the loaf of bread or medicine we are delivering”.
The volunteers recognised the difference they were making in raising community spirit and delivering smiles, often being the only human contact for people. The emphasis on human interaction, something that we used to take for granted. This initiative continues in lockdown 3 and many special relationships have developed based on trust, hope and compassion.
Rainbow Cupcakes, Celebrations and Clap for Carers
Many people also had to celebrate lockdown birthdays and anniversary’s from home without their loved ones around them. So to add an extra bit of sparkle, the Rosie May foundation delivered lockdown cupcakes, ingredients donated and baked by local volunteers, and delivered with a smile. Along with key worker children and teachers in schools, over 1015 rainbow cupcakes have been donated and delivered by Rosie the little Pink Tuk Tuk. Putting a smile on peoples faces and bringing a sense of hope and joy at a tough time for so many.
Bringing cheer to the local community also led to Rosie May’s involvement with the local clap for carers. Rosie the little Pink Tuk Tuk proudly drove through local communities alongside Bingham Fire Brigade, beep beeping to the clatter of pots and pans at 8pm every Thursday.
In December, Tuk Tuk Santa was busy saving Christmas for local children. Grottos were closed, so Rosie the little Pink Tuk Tuk visited homes with Santa and his elf. Santa knew the children’s names and where they lived, which they all found rather magical. Santa crews were mobilised across Nottinghamshire to Leicester and Leicestershire bringing Christmas Cheer to over 2,440 children.
Helping the Vulnerable
Senior citizens have faced a huge impact
with the lack of human interaction and restricted contact with the outside world for their safety. Many found they were missing their tradition of Fish and Chip Friday, so the Rosie May Foundation collaborated with Bingham Fish and Chip Shop to delivered directly to them. To date the Rosie May Foundation has provided 929 portions of Fish and Chips to local seniors. Without the support of volunteers none of this would have been possible. As we eased out of lockdown in July, volunteers were paramount in delivering a cake and chat initiative. A socially distanced chat in a garden or on the doorstep aimed to support people who were particularly anxious about coming out of lockdown. Relationships were built up over time. At the beginning , some residents would only open a window to pass their medication through, but eventually volunteers were assisting with their first trips to the local market, helped them manage wearing masks, social distancing and card payments because for many it was as if they had “emerged into a new world”.
Over Christmas the Rosie May Foundation recognised that many of those still needing to isolate would not be able to see family and be alone. Tuk Tuk Santa delivered potted Christmas Trees with twinkley lights, cheese boards with all the trimmings with the support from local businesses FHP Living and ABL Properties. Mary said “our seniors told us they felt they had not been forgotten this Christmas!”.
Work Overseas and our Emergency Appeal
With Covid grounding the travel industry this had a massive impact on tourism. Projects in Nepal and Sri Lanka were hugely effected. With the loss of fundraising opportunities as events like the Rosie May Ball were cancelled, an international emergency appeal was launched in May. Mums in Sri Lanka were saying that “they would rather die of COVID than hunger”. Once you hear a child crying of hunger, it is a cry you never forget. This sparked the need for a new wave of fundraising supported by Charity patrons Charlotte Gorton, Geeta Pendse and the Duchess of Rutland. Charlotte created a Musical Theatre Zoom Quiz with West End stars who work with the charity like Richard Reynard and Kelly Price. They had nearly 100 participants including me and my family and it was truly a great night of entertainment filled with laughs and really tested your Musical Theatre Knowledge. From the success of this one another was held a few months later. The Christmas Quiz raised £1,521.89 with over 100 quizzers taking part with people describing it as a “brilliant time”, “we totally loved it”, “what a wonderful start to the festivities”.
Virtual interns from Nottingham University also organised a Sri Lankan cook along evening, even someone from New York joined! Geeta Pendse, a charity patron, dedicated a yoga classes and the Duchess of Rutland made a public appeal for support. Over £10,000 was raised and over 1,000 women and their families were fed throughout the pandemic every month.
Volunteers and Donations
All of this incredible support has been given by volunteers and members of the public who gave up their time or donated to bring some light back into the lives of others. To support their local and global communities. Without this help, the Rosie May Foundation could not do what they do. Donations from businesses like Bingham Pharmacy who donated £400 worth of selection boxes. Musical Theatre High who put on socially distanced Christmas recorded performances to raise donations, and of course the help of our amazing volunteers like Roy Farell and Phil Drabble who fundraised by driving Rosie on a 400 mile tuk tuk rally in Wales. Their youngest fundraiser Vinnie at just six years old did a sponsored obstacle course in his garden.
COVID has been challenging for charities, especially small international charities like the Rosie May Foundation. Their remarkable survival is testimony to the resilience and compassion of their founder Mary Storrie who says ‘despite the challenges of funding, it seemed only natural for us to want to help our local community as well as our global community, we recognised early on that mental health is as vital to managing lockdown for anyone, not only the vulnerable’.
Volunteers for the foundation have gained a sense of pride and achievement in being able to help their own community. Rosie May’s legacy lives on in her local community despite the challenges of funding at a time when it is needed more than ever. The Rosie May Foundation have been able to raise spirits and add a little sparkle and hope to those around them with Rosie the “Pink Tuk Tuk” leading the way as a beacon of hope for the future.