New Shaftesbury Online Forum Tackles Coronavirus Shopping Shortages

A Bimport resident has created an online forum to help locals facing shopping and supply chain challenges caused by COVID-19 disruption. Tim Scrivin has launched the ‘If I Can Spare It I Will Shaftesbury’ Facebook group by offering to donate spare nappies.

Our town’s response to the coronavirus threat has reminded Shaftesbury residents of the strong community spirit here. Locals have been volunteering to deliver shopping and run errands for self-isolating neighbours. And the community kindness has spread online. By Thursday afternoon, almost 600 locals had joined the group that Tim had only created on Tuesday evening.

Tim Scrivin with his 18-month-old son Kalvin

Since then, residents have offered to swap free range eggs for a bottle of infant Calpol. One woman offered unwanted novels. And a home-baker has tried to track down dried yeast for baking. “It is essentially like your neighbour coming around and asking for a cup of sugar,” said Tim.

He identified the need for an online exchange, where Shaftesbury people could have calm conversations about locating ingredients and products or share unwanted goods. “Somebody posted the other night that they had gone to Tesco’s and couldn’t get any nappies,” said Tim. “They also went to the Co-Op and they couldn’t get them. They couldn’t get nappies anywhere. They even went as far as Gillingham. I just sat there, and I thought that people need to be able to share.”

Tim has never set up a community group, either physical or virtual, before. But with press reports of panic buying and a sense of confusion over coronavirus, he knew what he had to do. And his group’s name, ‘If I Can Spare It I Will Shaftesbury’, sums it up. “That’s where you’ll find the discussions on Facebook,” said Tim. “It’s just a simple group where people can post if they are looking for a particular item – or if they have an excessive amount of something and somebody else needs it, then they can have it.”

The group was launched with Tim’s own response to an appeal for help. “The first thing I put up there was a pack of nappies, because we have three packs of nappies,” he said. I was reading that people were struggling so I put up a pack of size five nappies, free to anyone who needs them.”

Tim doesn’t ‘police’ what people post but he hopes that locals act appropriately and responsibly. “This is purely a case of relying on community honesty. At the moment it seems to be the case,” he said. “They are being open and honest. It’s not like people are looking for things that have been featured in the media. They are not asking for forty packs of toilet roll. They want to know if anybody has a loaf of bread or if they can spare a couple of eggs. Everybody has happily turned around and said ‘of course’.”

One group member asked where she could buy a loaf in Shaftesbury during the evening. “At that time of night, you are looking at the Esso garage or Central (at Ivy Cross). And if they haven’t got any, try High Street shops like Reeves in the morning. Failing that, wait until Tesco opens in the morning and see whether they have restocked. Even just a little bit of information gives people a warm fuzzy feeling about themselves and that they are not alone. There are people out there who can help them,” said Tim.

With the site’s impressive take-up over just two days, Tim believes the group will outlive this virus. “I would like to think so. I like to think it still has the ability to stay there.”

You can join here.