How Lions Clubs in Warwick, Leamington, Kenilworth and Southam adapted to help people throughout the pandemic
Lions Clubs belong to a worldwide association whose members are ordinary men and women from all walks of life who each year globally volunteer millions of hours service and raise money in support of their local communities
We look at the role the Lions charities played across our area to help those in need during the pandemic.
It has now been more than a year since the world was first faced with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last March the UK went into its first of many lockdowns and for many organisations, businesses, charities and residents things came to a halt.
Throughout lockdown many people and groups had to adapt to the new restrictions in place - including the Lions charity.
Lions Clubs belong to a worldwide association whose members are ordinary men and women from all walks of life who each year globally volunteer millions of hours service and raise money in support of their local communities.
Lions Clubs are among the first to offer help when disaster strikes often financed by the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), which supports the efforts of local clubs through global relief programmes and grants allowing them to address needs which would otherwise be out of reach.
One example being in June 2020 when local clubs advised the LCIF that the UK Air Ambulance Service was in need of vital equipment in it’s battle against Covid-19 they obtained a grant of £160,000.
The past year has been a difficult time for all charities and the Lions Clubs in and around the Warwick district have also struggled as their major fundraising efforts were put on hold and social distancing made all of their other activities challenging, and this was at a time when the demand for their services was at an all time high.
However, helped by the amazing generosity of local businesses, individual households and various grants from the likes of LCIF all the clubs have been able to make an impact although some very innovative thinking has been called for.
In Kenilworth the Lions seeing the closure of their highly successful furniture store turned to delivering prescriptions to housebound residents and during the first twelve weeks of the lockdown.
Their 11-man team estimated they had travelled some 3,000 miles delivering more than 2,500 prescriptions while their wives joined a local initiative fronted by the Methodist Church producing aprons, scrubs, laundry bags and headbands for the NHS.
Molly Bufton Stear, the daughter of a Kenilworth Lions member, also set up 'Molly’s Meals' delivering hot lunches to isolating residents.
Later when the vaccination programme started the Lions undertook the supply of high visibility jackets and funded hot lunches at local vaccination centres as well as assembling a team to help Kenilworth School carry out some 6,000 lateral flow tests for asymptomatic Covid-19 on their pupils.
During the Christmas period they also managed to lift everyone’s spirits by holding a virtual version of their popular carol concert.
Southam Lions in the meantime had spotted an increasing demand for hand sanitiser in the schools in their area, which due to already overstretched budgets the schools were struggling to supply.
So the club approached local companies who were able to donate sanitiser and bottles which members filled, boxed up and then delivered to the schools.
Another sad consequence of the lockdown restrictions that they recognised was that over Christmas and the New Year many people could not visit the graves of their departed loved ones so Southam Lions organised a tree of remembrance and a plaque at the local Church for them to attend instead.
Their Santa’s sleigh still went around the villages to excite the children and they even persuaded Santa to make himself available on Zoom.
Warwick Lions (which also covers Leamington) capitalised on their experience in providing Christmas food parcels and working in conjunction with Morrison and Tesco supermarkets and other local organisations.
Together they made up and delivered food parcels to isolating households and - in line with their aims to motivate and inspire young people - donated laptops to a Westgate Primary School.
They also worked with a local IT company to collect donated tablets and laptops, which were then wiped and reconfigured and then delivered to other schools in the area.
They also organised child-friendly Halloween, Christmas and Easter treats to keep the younger children amused as well as continuing their usual donations of white goods and other essential household items to struggling families.
A spokesman for the Lions organisation said: “We are not only about fundraising, as you can see Lions also deliver a unique community service but our priority at the moment is to get our charity accounts back into order so that we can serve our local citizens to the best of our ability”.
This year the Warwick Lions also celebrate their 60th Anniversary and to help make up for the loss of funds in 2020 members have each agreed to undertake a personal fundraising challenge.
To start the ball rolling their oldest member 86-year-old Peter Amis is to carry out a sponsored Wing Walk which will see him standing on the wing of a 1940’s bi-plane flying at 500 feet above the Cotswolds.
To sponsor Peter and help the Warwick Lions Club go to: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lionpeterswingwalk