G oodgym, a community of runners and cyclists from all over the UK, take on missions within their local area that combine getting fit with doing good. So far, during the pandemic, 19,000 of their volunteers have logged 37,906 good deeds, often working with local authorities and partners such as AgeUK and the British Red Cross, to deliver essential tasks. The Royal Voluntary Service has also been adapting to the pandemic, swapping in-person wellbeing visits to phone calls and ensuring regular services such as the Enfield home library can continue to serve the community.
Jacqueline helping Elaine, 68, in Peckham with her garden.
Jacqueline has been a member of GoodGym for four years and has completed more than 400 missions.
Elaine: âThis is the first time Iâve had anyone come and help me. Iâm a flowers girl. I always do the garden myself, always. Itâs good exercise. I can do the smaller jobs but not the big machinery.â
Jacqueline: âIâve been doing this thing where you try to run all the streets in your borough, so sometimes I sign up to a mission because I know itâs going to make me go to a bit I havenât done.â
Girija, Dee and Nick helping Gregg, 60, move his furniture to make space for a new bed being given to him by the British Legion.
Girija Tase, 27, Dee Ower, 45, and Nick Moore, 50
Gregg: âArenât there some good people out there, itâs a genius simple idea.â
Dee: âIâve always wanted to volunteer and saw a post on Instagram that caught my eye. I thought, what an amazing idea. Iâm a social butterfly so itâs perfect for me. Coming together as a community, socialising and having fun in the area where you live, getting to run or cycle to missions. Itâs definitely helped me in lockdown.â
Nick has completed 244 missions. âItâs incredibly fulfilling, Iâd never done anything like it before. I turn 50 today and am doing a mission for my birthday. Itâs a great idea, in many ways itâs very simple.â
Girija and Alex collect leftover food from Greggs in Brixton to deliver to a homeless outreach centre at Chandler community hall.
Girija Tase, 27, and Alex Brockman, 28
Alex: âIâm freelance and wasnât working for some of lockdown, so itâs been great to put those spare hours to good use. When youâre only seeing your own household, it has a really positive impact.â
Girija: âIâve done 153 missions and counting. I had been trying to get into running for a while, itâs helped me develop a much better relationship with my body. It really is the most inclusive and joyful wellbeing community Iâve ever come across.â
Isobel, Michael and dog Bowie in Newham, receive their prescription from volunteer Hilary Wood.
Isobel and Michael have been shielding since March 2020 and have had their prescriptions delivered four times. This is the second time they are meeting Hilary.
âWe used to go down to the pharmacy on the mobility scooter but youâve got to be careful now. My daughter comes once every week with a bit of food Sheâs only here for five or 10 minutes, then goes. We havenât seen the baby for 18 months.â
Hilary Wood collects the prescriptions.
Hilary: âSome days I wouldnât have left the house had it not been for the motivation to come for a bike ride. Now my job is work from home, Goodgym is my replacement commute.â
Anna-Lou Manca, 38, a social worker who runs online cooking clubs for carers in the community as part of the Kinship Hub.
Anna-Lou Manca, 38
Anna-Lou is a social worker running Kinship Hub, a support network for kinship carers across London. Goodgym cyclists will deliver ingredients to kinship carer families in south London, for a weekly online cook-along.
Anna-Lou: âThe group cookalongs are a way to combat isolation and create a network of carers within the local area. Weâre making pizza today. Iâm Italian so this is the real deal.â
Kim drops off an ingredient delivery to Sharon, a kinship carer in south London, so she can make pizza over zoom later that evening.
Sharon McPherson, 51
Sharon is a kinship carer to her two grandsons, aged nine and 16 years.
Sharon: âThe most popular recipe was the tuna pasta bake and the rice and peas, that went down well. Itâs important for the kids to know that theyâre not alone, everybody on the cooking club isnât living with their birth parents, for various reasons. It shows that theyâre not the only one.â
Latoya Stephens, 39, from Enfield, delivers the weekly shop to Betty Johnson, 92, a retired nurse.
Latoya Stephens, 39
Latoya has been a Goodgym member for three years, and completed more than 200 missions.
Betty: âI get a weekly shop from Asda but sometimes I need extra things, so Goodgym delivers shopping once a week. When the computer wasnât working I didnât see anyone for three weeks, I was so glad when they rang up and said they were coming again.â
Latoya: âYou realise that so many people donât have anyone that can help them. Itâs given me faith back in humanity.â
Natalie Tremlett walks Jacob for Janet.
Nat alie Tremlett
Janet, in her 80s, is a retired NHS nurse. Her dog Jacob, a German shepherd, is 13 and has a wheelchair for his back legs. He is walked by volunteers once a day.
Janet: âJacobâs been in a wheelchair for the last three weeks. Itâs difficult to walk him because of his back legs, but the volunteers have been wonderful.â
Natalie, a member of Goodgym for the past two and a half years, said: âI signed up to have a reason to keep running after completing my first marathon. Itâs nice to feel like youâre making a difference to someone who has been isolated during the pandemic. Weâve struck up a real friendship that will continue after lockdown.â
Nick delivers shopping to Alan Spence, 94.
Nick Moore, 49
Alan lives on the second floor and cannot use the stairs. Alan has had shopping delivered every week since August 2020.
Alan: âIâve met Nick a few times, there are other regulars that come with my shopping, too. I canât get out, I used to go to the daycare centre every week but thatâs been stopped with lockdown. I had my jab two weeks ago, Iâm waiting for my next one. I want everyone to have it.â
Nick Moore, 50, has completed 244 missions. Heâs shopped for Alan 12 times. âI had a year off work at the end of 2019. I was meant to travel but with Covid restrictions wasnât able to. Iâd never done any volunteering before. Itâs incredibly fulfilling. How would I have met Alan otherwise?â
Rob delivering Hotel du Lac on audiobook to Mabel, 104, and her daughter Chris, 67, in north London.
Rob Costa, 62
Rob is part of the Royal Voluntary Service.
Rob: âIâve been part of the Enfield home library service for the past five years. I was looking out for voluntary roles after I retired, I always liked keeping busy. We deliver twice a month. Since Covid we quarantine the books and wear PPE for deliveries. The users are very happy the service is still up and running. They look forward to it.â
Mabel: âItâs a breath from outside, which is so nice, four walls get a bit boring as everybody knows. Iâve really appreciated everything theyâve done. First I had large-print books but now itâs the speaking ones. I like interesting stories and a certain amount of crime.â
Gywn Jones, 70, having a smartphone delivered in south London by Samuel Tucker.
Samuel Tucker, 52
Samuel: âMy dad had a stroke five years before he died and I was grateful to those carers that helped him. Helping someone else makes me feel good. You meet some interesting people. It makes me feel grateful, I realise how fortunate I am.â
Sonny has been making phone calls to Dave, 92, whoâs been shielding since the start of lockdown.
Sonny: âI started with the Royal Voluntary Service in November 2019. I met Dave face to face in March 2020. Iâm on furlough from my job with British Airways so itâs a two-way thing.â
Dave: âThe RVS phoned and asked if I wanted someone to come and see me. I said that sounds nice, because I live alone. It would be nice to have somebody to talk to. Thatâs how it started. Of course Sonny is a friend now. His visits and phone calls have meant a lot. It eases the living alone. We speak once a week.â
Stuart Redfern, 61, shopping for Josephine Hollingsworth, 86.
Stuart Redfern, 61
Stuart has completed 109 missions.
Josephine: âIâve been a bit shut in during lockdown. I used to walk everywhere, I miss it. I havenât seen my children since July, my son and my daughter. Stuart reminds me of my son, thereâs only a year between them.â
Stuart: âItâs my second time shopping for Josephine. Last time we talked about her family and her life in London. Her dad used to run pubs and sheâd take draft beer into the Old Vic and serve drinks to Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Navigating parts of London that Iâve never been to before is interesting too, itâs like the knowledge that taxi drivers do.â