How Facebook generosity is helping Chantry redefine community spirit
- Credit: Lewis Upson
Community spirit was reported to be at a high during the first lockdown - but the leaders of a Chantry social media group have made a real effort to keep that togetherness going.
More than 9,000 people are members of the Chantry and Surrounding Talk and Support Community Group on Facebook, which has been running for around two years.
Dan Drake started the group in March 2020, about the time of the first lockdown, and said that the reaction was "instant".
He said: "There wasn't anything really like it around Chantry.
"I needed help myself around that time, from Tom Hunt and his secretary, and I needed a food parcel.
"Since I had that help, I said I would give back."
And give back he has - from helping with large scale projects like Donna Molloy's Chantry Christmas Appeal to make sure families had presents to enjoy to smaller-scale voucher donations to help individuals get by.
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One member, who wished to remain anonymous, said they'd been helped get through a difficult six months thanks to Dan and Ozzie Bozdag, director at Codfellas in Ipswich.
They were in a vulnerable situation, had lost their job due to Covid and were struggling to look after a new baby.
They said: "Dan donated £100 Co-op vouchers to me and my children to ensure they had the wonderful Christmas treats they were used to.
"He also messaged frequently to check we were okay, positive quotes, and just made me see there was a light at the end.
"Due to the Chantry group I survived one of the most testing times in my life.
"One day I'll give back, but the help, support and friendships are invaluable."
It's not just providing support to others in need - the group also gives vouchers to people who are appreciated for their community contributions.
Mr Drake said: "I went to Codfellas and Ozzie gave me the idea of competitions and rewards to recognise people who do good around the estate.
"It's a huge success, we get well over 50 posts a day from people to approve."
He piled praise onto Ozzie, who is quick to provide guidance and financial support whenever it's needed, and Clorina Warner, who he said was a massive help in keeping the group ticking over.
Local businesses and organisations - including BMC Cakery, Chantry Library and, of course, Codfellas - are also keen to get involved wherever they can.
The outcome of each of these parts is a thriving hub described as the "heart of the community".
Member Tracey Brooks said: "If anyone needs help of any sort and puts a request on here, several people jump in to help.
"They have helped homeless people, people who have lost everything in house fires, people who are struggling to put food on the table.
"It's amazing seeing so much generosity happening on your own doorstep in such troubled times."