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Behind the scenes, a dedicated team offers assistance to those who most need it

When vulnerable adults and families need assistance, the Covid-19 response team is there to deliver food packs and other essentials they may need.

A team of 29 people work at the Gibraltar Training Centre, switching their day-to-day roles to now assisting the Covid-19 effort run by the Gibraltar Government.

The team responds to requests from the public for food packs, currently catering to some 110 households.

Tucked away on the edge of Queensway Road, the team have been working behind the scenes for weeks, delivering supplies to many grateful households during this pandemic.

When the lockdown first began the team would deliver two boxes filled with staples, and now top up when requested.

Unsurprisingly, the most requested food item is bread, followed by milk and essential items including toilet paper.

So far, they have dealt with over 350 requests.

Dean Castrey, who manages the response team, told the Chronicle about the work undertaken during this lockdown.

“Initially people who required shopping would contact the 20041818 information helpline and then that would come through to our operators who would then fill out the response forms, those would come to us and we would action,” Mr Castrey said.

“But after doing that for about a week and a half, we realised that we weren’t really capturing the vulnerable people we wanted to capture. So we had a meeting with the Care Agency who were very helpful and they passed on a list to us which grows each week.”

“We are more comfortable now that we are catering for Gibraltar’s most vulnerable, which is what we wanted to capture from the beginning.”

The team has been working for over a month, along with a team in No.6 Convent Place who are helping out with calls and have nine government vehicles that they use to carry out the deliveries.

Those in need are also contacted weekly, as a welfare check, to ensure their needs are being met.

Those receiving the packs can chose between a monthly or weekly pack, or a partial delivery. The packs cater to dietary requirements.

The deliveries are carried out on weekdays, but the team is also on call on the weekends.

“It is going really well,” Mr Castrey said.

In an average week, the team will carry out between 50 and 100 deliveries, and often find the recipients will call later to thank them for their work.

“Working with the group of people we have here is inspiring, they love what they do,” Mr Castrey said.

He added that the team goes “over and above” when dealing with those in need, including offering to throw rubbish away to save the vulnerable leaving their households.

Also, for those receiving the deliveries the response team may be the only people they see and interact with, from a distance, during lockdown.

A friendly face and smile can go a long way for those at home for weeks on end.

The team is also poised when needed to deliver personal protection equipment and other medical supplies. This has not yet been needed, but they are on hand if this becomes necessary in the future.

The response team is comprised of staff from different public departments and includes Richard Desoiza, Alexis Ferrar, Albert Gonzalez, Martin Gudge, Jolan Dyer, Joseph Galea, Bianca Davis, Charmaine Robba, James Corbacho, and Kaylan Ocaña from the Gibraltar Training Centre.

Jason Ellul, David Brakes, Joseph Gaivizo, James Cruz, Paul Dewfall, Lee Cano, Joseph Garcia, Claudio Moreno, Ernest Galliano, Dennis Lopez, Brian Buckley, John Charles Segui, Trevor Garcia and Michael Negrette from other departments have also joined the team.

Bianca Davis and Charmaine Robba both man the telephone lines, and said this new role was very fulfilling.
“Before, I was working in admin and this is a totally different role, but it is so fulfilling as we are helping people,” Ms Davis said.

“Our team is doing the deliveries and making sure they are ok by knocking on the door and seeing them. It is lovely.”

Paul Dewfall has been seconded from the Tourist Board to the response team and has been carrying out deliveries.
He told the Chronicle the recipients of the deliveries were so grateful.

“Some people just want to chat because they’ve been locked up all day long and they would like to hear about how things are outside,” he said.

“They haven’t been out for a couple of weeks so they are very happy [to see us].”

He added: “They have no contact with the outside world. It’s been really good helping the community.”