Leyland woman's appeal for support after mission to help key workers and vulnerable people suffers setback

A Leyland woman making care packs for key workers and vulnerable people suffered a setback when her fundraising page was shut down without warning.

Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 12:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 12:26 pm

Sophie Wilding is part of a community group that has delivered 462 face masks to care homes in one day and made more than 800 care packs.

But she was left in shock when her accompanying Facebook page, Community Network and Outreach Service, which has 3,000 followers, was reported and shut down by the social media platform last Saturday.

Sophie received an automated message saying it had been reported for violating community standards with a long list of items like sexism, racism, sexual content, and violence etc.

She said: "I was shocked at first. I couldn't understand why someone would do it. It was absolutely awful. I couldn't think why someone would be spiteful."

The community group's good work includes delivering face shields to schools and helping a domestic violence refuge source furniture for women moving into their own homes.

The page contained evidence of all their efforts, such as donations to various services, including care home and prisons, as well as words of thanks and photos posted by NHS workers posing with their care packs.

"All this content showed that the group is doing what it says it is," Sophie said.

The community group also has links with a company making face masks, who would use the page to let them know when PPE was available for delivery to key workers.

Members would also use the page to support each other through the emotional strains of lock-down, and offer each other inspiration for keeping themselves and their families both entertained and motivated.

"People would have a chat if they were having a bad day. It was a community page and people made links with each other. They'd have a general chat and a laugh," Sophie said.

"They'd put up pictures showing at-home hair cuts gone wrong, funny things their children were up to and what they did to celebrate VE Day.

"They also posted DIY, baking and gardening photos.

"We also had a business thread, and if anyone helped us, we'd put a link to their business page."

But all that content - and signposting to vital services - was lost when the page was closed, and Sophie says she was worried it would put vulnerable people back at risk.

"I never thought I'd had to screenshot everything," she added.

"I set up a new page straightaway as I knew we'd become familiar and many people would be looking for us.

"I asked 200 people to share it and their support has been brilliant.

"The community has been fantastic, both now and with donations of essentials like PPE. They've helped get the page back up. Without them, it wouldn't be possible. I've also had many nice messages of support, with people telling me to keep my chin up.

"That was nice, as you do think, 'Should I do this again? What if it happens again?'"

But the popularity of the group is plain to see, with the new page reaching 1,100 followers in just over a week.

Sophie now wants to run the community group long-term and hopes to turn it into a general support network and hub that offers free training opportunities and a food top-up service.

And the Good Samaritan is asking people to help it get back to its original strength by sharing the Facebook page as widely as possible.

She said: "I really want to thank everybody who has supported us and helped us get back up and running."