In recent days every villager in Redlingfield has received a “Cheer Up Bag”, a carrier bag of goodies and presents put together by a group of local volunteers, designed to make them smile and feel better about life in these challenging times.
Redlingfield is a small rural village, not far from Eye, in north Suffolk. There are some sixty houses in the village. It’s a fairly typical place, with a mix of people of different ages, many of the families have been here for generations whilst others have come to Redlingfield in the last few years. There has always been a strong and supportive community here, people look out for each other and are happy to help.
Parish Clerk Janet Norman-Philips said: “The corona virus has worried people and had quite an impact. A number of residents are elderly or have existing health issues or have young children. We have first responders in the village and quite a few people who work in some of the key industries that have been needed to keep us all going over the past couple of months as people have been taking precautions and sheltering in place.”
“Some of our people are on their own and just getting deliveries of food or medicines but not really being able to see people – so they are lonely and worried. Others are living with the joys of isolating at home with young children or teenagers and all the challenges that brings.”
“We have set up a network of volunteers who have been helping others, either shopping or collecting medicines or providing a sympathetic ear.”
“A group of people in the village decided that it would be a really nice idea to create goodie bags to cheer people up. We thought at first that we would just do them for the elderly or vulnerable or families of key workers and then we realised that was the majority of people in the village – so it didn’t seem fair to exclude people.”
The “Cheer Up Bags” contain a mix of items: a jigsaw puzzle, board games, a pack of playing cards, some toiletries, some sweets, a bird feeder and some bird food, a few packets of seeds, both wildflower and easy-to-grow flowers and vegetables to encourage youngsters and the less green-fingered to have a go, for the adults we also included a bottle of beer or fruit juice plus everyone got their own funny-face stress ball. All delivered in an easily recycled brown paper carrier bag along with a greeting card and newsletter. (See attached picture of “Cheer Up Bag” items).
More than 60 of these “Cheer Up Bags” have now been delivered around Redlingfield, aiming to bring a smile to people lips and help people feel better and less isolated during the current crisis.
From the reactions on the doorstep – at a safe distance – they seem to have hit the spot. (see three attached pictures: Jan & Neville Butcher receiving their “Cheer Up Bag; Patrick Abbott giving a thumbs-up for his “Cheer Up Bag”; Eddie, Gail & Kelly Hawes with their “Cheer Up Bags”).
Janet Norman-Philips also said: “We want to thank everyone who helped. We had grants from Suffolk Community Foundation, Mid Suffolk District Council, Redlingfield church and Redlingfield parish council, as well as donations from individual villagers. Businesses also helped, supplying items at cost or with sizable discounts – notably the Bruha Brewery** and The Handyman, both in Eye and a host of other online businesses and eBayers who helped out getting some hard to find things for our “Cheer Up Bags”. Getting hold of flower and vegetable seeds was especially difficult.”
** The Bruha Brewery was formerly known as Station 1-1-9.
Comments from villagers included: -
“Thank you so much for my lockdown parcel it’s full of super treats, as I have been in the garden so much weeding and revealing bare soil the seeds are a real bonus, I will try a beer this afternoon and maybe a bubble bath later, hopefully playing with the smiling stress ball will stop me eating so much.”
“Many thanks for the ingenious and delightful Goody Bag ... It was a complete surprise in itself and the contents were one surprise after another. It really brightened up our day. You clearly have the power to read minds. We have been trying to get seeds for several weeks, nasturtiums in particular, without success. Our tub of birdseed was almost gone and what better morale-booster could there be on VE Day than traditional pale ale? We are touched by the kindness and warmth of our fellow villagers who have gone out of their way for two newcomers. We are so glad that we settled in Redlingfield. Please relay our gratitude to all concerned.”
“A lovely surprise. Just like diving into a Christmas stocking and such thoughtful items. Thank you very much indeed.”
“Dear village committee thank you for my goodie bag. What a lovely surprise, it made me smile and a bit emotional. A lovely idea whoever’s idea it was”.
Top a selction of the contents of the bags and below some happy villagers.