A group of Belfast residents have formed a task force for people and families self-isolating over coronavirus.

A short online posting on community platform Nextdoor.com by a north Belfast woman on Thursday, was inundated with offers to help. Among the tasks envisaged are dropping off groceries at doorsteps, walking dogs, doing vet visits for those self-isolating, chemist runs and other errands that unaffected people can do on their way to the shops – or while walking their own dogs.

Helping out: Andrea Morrow

Andrea Morrow, (50), who lives in the Cavehill Road area said she was amazed at the response after she mooted the idea of forming a group to help out in simple ways. 

“I couldn’t believe the response. Scores of people offered to help. In a matter of hours there were more than 100 comments. They were dog owners, drivers, carers and nurses. “Many had come home from the supermarket and recounted stories of older people being sidelined and unable to get supplies. Many were deeply affected by the scenes.”

Mrs Morrow, a journalist, said her idea was prompted by the announcement on Thursday by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that schools were to close across the Republic.

She said: “I could feel the changes coming and I thought if we could get some plans in place, people could get help from neighbours already going out to the shops or walking their own dog. It just made sense – just a little support, just as we all go about our lives. 

“It seemed silly that I would be going to the shops but someone living close would not be able to.

“I thought if we all pool resources and help our neighbours who are facing logistical difficulties, it will lessen needless hardship during the pandemic.”

She said errand runners and helpers will be required to keep a distance from the person they are helping and wear latex gloves.

“Helpers will be on the doorstep and never in anyone’s home. Their role will be dropping off and collecting with no contact. That way we can help those facing isolation needs while protecting against the spread of the virus.

Mrs Morrow has supplied her phone number for people in the BT14 and BT15 area to call if they need small errands done.