Password system to help Shropshire coronavirus volunteers look after the isolated vulnerable
The leader of a Shropshire neighbourhood coronavirus aid group has developed a password system to help keep elderly and vulnerable people who need support safe.
Sonia Leigh has lived in Muxton, near Donnington, for more than 25 years. When the coronavirus crisis led to people stockpiling food and isolating at home, she established a community of volunteers to help deliver shopping and run errands for the vulnerable.
She began handing out forms to the houses in her street but when she saw national news stories about scammers who would offer to go shopping for the self-isolated but instead keep the money for themselves, it weighed on her mind until she came up with a novel solution to reassure the elderly and vulnerable.
"Anyone could do it and put those forms through people's doors," Mrs Leigh said.
"How on earth do we try and make it so it's safe for the vulnerable?"
The idea she settled on was a simple password system, so that all of the forms distributed by the help group have contact details as well as space for a distinct key word or phrase that isolated people can ask for over the phone to ensure the person they are speaking to is genuine.
Each street or collection of houses would have its own password.
The forms also say: "If you are not sure who I am please ask other neighbours if they know me and if they can verify who I am."
"It will give people that extra bit of security when they pick up the phone," Mrs Leigh said.
"It's not perfect but it is that extra step."
She also said that she has been heartened by the response of people in Muxton and generally to the situation, and is grateful for the support of the rest of the group which has distributed forms and posters to businesses in Muxton.
"I want to thank everybody that has supported this and pulled together."