Caring colleagues at Asda Wisbech reach out to do shopping for vulnerable customers

May 15, 2020

Our kind-hearted home shopping colleagues at Asda Wisbech – led by delivery driver Geoff Norris – are looking after vulnerable and elderly customers by doing their shopping for them on their days off and delivering it in their own cars.

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Their acts of kindness have been described as a "lifetime" by one elderly shopper, while another said they had been "life savers."

Geoff, who's worked for Asda for five years, said he wanted to help as soon as he found out that a number of self-isolating customers were struggling to go shopping to get the supplies they needed.

He said: "I went back to the team at Wisbech and said we needed to support them. Straight away five drivers said they would help deliver and about eight or nine pickers said they would help too.

"We go in early every Sunday morning on our day off. We pick the shopping, then we go through the tills before we deliver in our own cars. All the drivers pick as well as deliver."

Geoff and the team, including Gemma and Donna Wheatley, cover a 30-mile radius covering Wisbech, Holbeach and towards March.

He said: "It's a big team effort. A lot of these customers are housebound and cannot get out for food – they would be stuck if it wasn't for people willing to help out.

"We've known these people for years and we need to help them. They are our people and they are so very grateful.

"Some of the people who have contacted us are up in Yorkshire and it was for their mothers and fathers who have no internet. They were panicking as to how they were going to get their parents' food.

"A lot of people are classed as high-risk and they've been told they can't go out for 12 weeks. My daughter is high risk as she had cancer last year and can't go out and that's one of the reason's I've done it as I know how vulnerable people are.

"We like to take orders by email, but if people do phone in I usually get my wife or daughter to take down the list. Some people have phoned straight through to our store before and colleagues have taken down the order and passed it on to me. Everyone is mucking in. We are a community and we try to help wherever we can."

Geoff said people had contacted him through a local Facebook group and Age Concern and the county council had been in touch too.

Regular Asda customer Roberta Green – whose 11 year old daughter had a liver transplant when she was younger and is shielding at home – said the deliveries from Geoff and his colleagues were wonderful.

She said: "For them to go out and deliver in their own time, using their own cars and own fuel, is fabulous. This pandemic has brought out a lot of good in a lot of people. This situation has definitely produced community spirit.

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"We'd like to say a massive thank you. We are really appreciative of what they have done. They've been absolutely brilliant, but the team at Asda Wisbech have always been fabulous."

Valerie Thurkle, who's 84, said the deliveries from Geoff and the team had been a "lifeline".

She said: "I live on my own as I've got no family around me – my daughter and grand-daughter live in California – and I've no means of getting out, so this has been a lifeline to me.

"It's just like the old days when you write a list and phone it through, but now you email it through it Geoff. He will send one back saying the order had been received and that they will deliver on the Sunday. I've been delighted with it."

Her views were echoed by Emma Fennymore – who's the sole carer for her 85-year-old grandfather Derek.

She said: "Geoff gave me his email address and phone number and said if we needed anything to just let him know. I got in touch and he just said send me the shopping list. He's been amazing – a real lifesaver. It's incredible, I take my hat off to them."

Store manager Matt Morris said he was extremely proud of his colleagues.

He said: "It simply is amazing what they are all doing. It's a fantastic gesture from a lovely group of colleagues. What they are doing is marvellous – great community spirit!"

"It started with a few customers, but word spread rapidly and there's now quite a few. Gemma and Donna Wheatley help out too as well as other members of the team."

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