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Earlier this summer, every baby and primary age child on Mull, Iona and Ulva received a parcel that included a book to enjoy, plus art and craft supplies.
Youngsters aged over three years old received their gift in a cardboard box which can be used to store the supplies and which can be decorated to make it truly personal.
Moray Finch of the Mull and Iona Community Trust accessed funding for the books and activity packs through the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund and the Mull and Iona Covid 19 Local Resilience Fund.
During the Covid crisis, children have been missing normal life in their families and at school. Although they are statistically less likely to contract the illness, their lives have changed profoundly to protect the older members of our community. The team that created the gifts hoped to provide a moment of surprise and joy for children. And a moment of peace for their parents!
Alison Linnemann, a retired paediatrician, volunteered to help at the beginning of lockdown. She was asked to form a group to look into what children might need at this time. Yvonne Marjot’s Just for Families page on Facebook provided access to information and fun learning ideas.
In discussion with and inspired by people like Andrena Duffin of the Community Council, Alison and Maggie Robson began to gather a team, involving local businesses and organisations. Sue Penny sorted and collected hundreds of children’s books which had been donated to MESS, with others supplied by Marianne Noble, Yvonne Marjot, Joanne MacPhail and Bev Maidment.
Duncan Swinbanks persuaded Usborne Books to provide beautiful new books at cost price. Mary Phillips made a donation which helped buy art and craft materials based on suggestions from Donna Dugdale, Lee McCrone and Nina Pope. Pete Dugdale sourced many of the goodies at a great price. Home Start Lorn donated some super additions to the collection. Thanks to Ian Campbell, Tobermory Church Hall became the operations centre with all the contents gathered for allocation to four broad age groups.
Liaising with Maggie, the Mull health visiting team and the headteachers organised the distribution of the parcels. Chris Swinbanks cut up hundreds of sheets of card. Many others helped in a variety of ways. This was indeed a community effort, benefiting almost 400 children.
It is hoped that the youngsters felt embraced by their community. Some may even be inspired to volunteer locally in the future? The parcels might just provide one of many good memories, for the children, of the Covid summer.