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Maidenhead United's Community Helpline scheme name-checked on The One Show by actor Ross Kemp

Maidenhead United’s Community Helpline scheme received support from a surprise source last week when it was name-checked on The One Show by the actor and broadcaster Ross Kemp.

Ross, who played Grant Mitchell in Eastenders for many years and presented an award-winning documentary series, ‘Ross Kemp on Gangs’, gave the club as an example of an initiative that is making a real difference during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ross recently met up with Sasha Bardwell from the football club and is currently presenting a series called On the NHS Frontline, focusing on key workers in their battle against COVID-19.

Sasha told him about the work she was doing co-ordinating a helpline and volunteer support for the vulnerable while the commercial, community and coaching arms of the club are in furlough. Ross also listened in to a call and spoke to individuals within the Royal Borough who are receiving assistance from the club’s volunteers. The interview is set to feature in a ‘Volunteer NHS Army’ BBC show in the near future.

So far the club has received nearly 200 calls to its hotline since it was launched at the end of March. Approximately 35 residents are receiving ongoing support from club volunteers and they’re currently receiving as many as 10-15 new calls a day from people asking for help or advice. The club has 16 helpline volunteers manning the phone lines seven days a week from 9-5pm, and can then call upon up to 90 volunteers in the Maidenhead and Windsor area.

Since the initiative was started the Community Helpline has started collaborating with WAM (Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead Community Database) in order to reach even more elderly and vulnerable residents. It’s also partnering with Maidenhead Mosque to help deliver food parcels to those who need them.

“Truly these extraordinary times have seen an equally extraordinary amount of good-will and community spirit which no doubt represents the best of us all,” said Neil Maskell, from the club.

“We have also received some fantastic testimonials from the remarkable people who are receiving help from our dedicated and DBS-checked volunteers.”

“Magpies Community Helpline would like to thank all of our incredible volunteers once again. Words alone cannot express the difference you are making.”

The call line is open seven days a week, Monday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Call it on 01628 367875.

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