Local Help Groups Spring Up as Coronvirus COVID-19 Spreads

By Alan D Winter
Community groups have been springing up across the land as coronavirus casualties ramp up.
As of 9am on 17 March 2020, 50,442 people have been tested in the UK, of which 48,492 were confirmed negative and 1,950 were confirmed as positive. Meanwhile, shops have been running out of supplies of things like toilet paper and pasta and supermarkets shelves have been running very low on other items.

With government announcements about the isolation of various categories of people and a close-to lock-down situation almost immediately ahead, it is not surprising that concerned and thoughtful people in our community are wondering what they can do to help.

Houghton Regis Helpers

The long-established and award-winning Houghton Regis Helpers head the field in local help and support groups for Houghton Regis.

The established Houghton Regis Helpers members are enhanced DBS checked*, which means they are particularly suited to meeting the needs of vulnerable people in the community  Call them on 07587 004514 if you need help with shopping, prescription collections or just for a chat. Or visit their website for further information.

Dunstable Good Neighbours 

Dunstable Good Neighbours would value your support. For those that live in Dunstable, the Dunstable Good Neighbours Scheme would value your support. Their number is 07491 455 777 and email of dunstablegoodneighbours@yahoo.co.uk

*What is DBS Checking?

A DBS check is conducted by the Disclosure and Barring Service, a Home Office sponsored non-departmental public group. There are three levels of checking:
Basic DBS Check checks a person's criminal history for ‘unspent’ convictions.
Standard Check DBS Check looks at an applicants criminal history for details of cautions, warnings, reprimands and convictions (both spent and unspent).
Enhanced Check same as the standard check except it also searches barred lists to ensure the applicant isn’t barred from working with vulnerable adults.


This social media platform is organised on an area by area basis. Residents can post messages to their area or to their area + adjacent areas. A special group has been set up to help with the Coronavirus situation, and membership of NextDoor is not required to join the group.
That aside, many people in Houghton Regis and Dunstable and Luton already enjoy other benefits of NextDoor membership, which is free. Sign up here.
Outside of the special group, many members have been offering help with shopping or lifts for example. The biggest local group on NextDoor is Parkside with over 600 members.

Facebook - Dunstable Covid-19 Mutual Aid

This has been set up as a public Facebook Group.  Created by Jade Anastasia Mar 17, 2020 by LINK

Who can see what members post, comment and share in the group? Anyone
Who can see the list of members in the group? People on Facebook
Who can see who the admins and moderators are? People on Facebook
Over 3000 members on 19 March 2020.
Administrated by Jade Anastasia Kyle Rooms and Angel Wood
This groups purpose is to help people in isolation/quarantine and the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 outbreak. Here people and businesses are offering to help deliver their time to deliver you whatever you may need if you are in isolation. Also if you have anything spare/unused to give anyone in need.

Facebook - Houghton Regis Mutual Aid Community Action Group (Covid-19) 

This has been set up as a private Facebook Group.  Created Mar 15, 2020 by Steve Finan LINK 
Who can see what members post, comment and share in the group? Current Group Members
Who can see the list of members in the group? Current Group Members
Who can see who the admins and moderators are? People on Facebook
This group has produced an advert :

The group can be emailed at houghtonregismutualaid@gmail.com
Support Request Form: https://forms.gle/NPq1DM95WjrqzYVE7
Volunteer Form: https://forms.gle/j3GeumXfcDm44k1P6
Volunteers are asked “What kind of support can you offer? “ and are asked to select from Shopping, Dog walking, Posting Mail, A friendly chat on the phone
The volunteer form also asks if the volunteer is DBS checked but it is unclear whether or not volunteers will be accepted without DBS checking.
If you need support, you can fill in this form
The admin for the group is Steve Finan whose public facebook profile indicates he's recently visited New Zealand. Steve has stood in local elections in Houghton Regis representing the Green Party.

Facebook - Houghton Regis and Dunstable Community Action Group 

This Public Facebook Group was set up by Toni Ryan on 15 March. LINK
Who can see what members post, comment and share in the group? Anyone
Who can see the list of members in the group? People on Facebook
Who can see who the admins and moderators are? People on Facebook

This group has a poll requesting people to say if they can help with collecting groceries, pick up a prescription, help to link local help, offer telephone support.
 take a dog for a walk
It's not clear how someone can ask for help, although if someone posts that they need help I am sure others in the group would offer. There is no mention in the group of DBS check at the time of this write-up.
One of the group admins is Louise O'Riordan [link to her Facebook profile].  Her recent Facebook profile shows her to be an animal rights activist with environmental concerns.  The other is Toni  Ryan, Labour's only Central Bedfordshire Councillor who lives in Houghton Regis.


Did you know you can access the library from home and download some great books and magazines using your library card and the RBDigital app. Not a library member? Don't worry you can join on line too!  Also, audiobooks can be a great way to take your mind off the current situation.

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