DG’s Blog April 14 2020

Easter Picture Quiz.

Where were these photos taken?

Scatter meetings via Zoom.

Why not have a virtual scatter week to another club? Many of our clubs are now holding their meetings via Zoom. Just drop the Secretary an email to get hold of the meeting ID and password and then join another club in their meeting. Clubs currently meeting by Zoom include: Bridport, Brit Valley, Chelwood Bridge, Chippenham, Crewkerne, Crewkerne District, Island and Royal Manor of Portland, Langport and Somerton, Lyme Regis, Mendip, Midsomer Norton & Radstock, Weston-Super-Mare, Weymouth, Wrington Vale and Yeo Vale. Melcombe Regis are holding coffee mornings by FaceTime.

Speakers list for Zoom meetings.

RGBI has set up a list of speakers that are available for you to invite to your Zoom meetings. You will need to sign in to your MyRotary account but the list is here:

Community support.

Many clubs are making donations to local food banks, soup kitchen, manning phones, registering will their Town Council offering support, running buddy systems for members and the vulnerable in their communities. Younger members are delivering food and medical prescriptions. Supporting Freewheelers Blood Bikes. Members from the Rotary Club of Mendip and Inner Wheel Club of Mendip are producing laundry bags for front line workers in the Clubs catchment area. The front-line workers can then put their clothes straight into the laundry bags to wash reducing handling.

Polio Plus.

All vaccination programmes have been temporarily paused due to the virus outbreak. It is expected that this will lead to an increase in the number of cases of wild Polio. Please continue to make your donations as there will need to be ramping up of the programme once the Virus situation has stabilised.

Western Power Distribution’s ‘In This Together – Community Matters Fund’.

Following the coronavirus outbreak, they have pledged £500,000 to help local groups deliver vital support and services directly to people in vulnerable situations through our new ‘In This Together – Community Matters Fund’. Applications are currently being welcomed from local authorities, parish and town councils, charities and community groups for grants up to £10,000. For more information and to apply, visit http://www.westernpower.co.uk/in-this-together.

Indian clubs supplying PPE.

Great to see our friends in Rotary India supporting the medical teams, these are PPE kits being supplied to Aims Bhopal and to Indore Hospitals under The Rotary Disaster Grant by Rotary International District 3040.

Best wishes and stay safe. Dennis

DG’s Blog April 6 2020


This week Linda Piggott of the Ilminster Club participated in the first of what will now be twice weekly updates, held by video conference to keep everyone informed of developments. The tone of the hour-long briefing was one of positivity and mutual collective support to find ways of accessing maximum resources and sharing of information to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 in this area.

• As of Fri. 3rd April there had been 1,000 cases in the South West, and a total of 126 deaths in the area (9 of which were in Somerset).
• Government legislation has now been passed to enable virtual meetings to take place. It is expected that scheduled SCC meetings will re-commence in May.
• Concern has been raised about the inability of residents and family members to be able to attend funerals of loved ones. Both Taunton and Yeovil crematoriums have the facility to webcam services if required.
• Because Covid-19 has been declared a ‘Major Incident’ a local resilience forum has been set up to coordinate activity.
• Most SCC staff are now working from home, with many working 7 days per week at this time. Those working in child protection are on 24-hour standby, fully aware of the impact on families that this crisis is likely to have and are ready to handle the situation.
• Routine adult social care visits are not being made at present, and where necessary partner organisations are being asked to take on this commitment for urgent cases.
• Easter Sunday is when the number of cases across the UK is expected to reach its peak, with the SW seeing its peak approx. two weeks later, towards the end of April. It is vital that in the interim we all continue to take the necessary precautions to ensure our safety and that of others around us.
• As far as Easter is concerned the message for Somerset is please, please do NOT come to visit our county. The county is closed for Easter.
• It is intended that schools remain open over the Easter holiday period to continue to provide necessary childcare for key workers.
• A new waste/recycling contract is now in place but the intended increase in recycling activity is on hold for the present time.
• SCC are taking on infection control duties for reportable diseases to help to ease the burden on the NHS.
• A number of staff have been re-deployed to other duties, including 50 to the Registration Service to support staff responsible for registering deaths, which can now be done online.
• Two former care homes have been re-opened (Yeovil, Wellington) to provide 100+ beds to enable recovering patients to be moved from hospital to free up beds. 60 volunteers have come forward to staff the properties, including hotel staff, who will provide meals.
• PPE is in extremely short supply across the county and the resilience forum is working hard to source the necessary supplies, including 1200 rolls of plastic aprons. County Hall is to be used as a distribution centre, with support from the volunteer army.
• Military assistance is being sought for assistance with body storage.
• 1.5 million vulnerable people have been identified as requiring support nationally, and support cells have been set up. Both district and county councils are stepping in to provide any necessary intervention for residents and businesses while details of the national response to coordinate support is awaited.
• Across the county 5 warehouses are ready for action, with 1,000 food parcels ready to go.
• £15.68m has been received from central government towards putting in place the measures required to deal with Covid-19. There is likely to be a shortfall of around £1m and MPs are lobbying for an increase in funds.
• There is an awareness of the need to support business recovery in the aftermath of Covid-19 and planning for that is underway,
• Several local town and parish councils have put aside money to help those in need, and various schemes are in place to enable people to shop who may not have ready access to money. ‘Square Point of Sale’ is being used in some areas to facilitate this.

What we as a District are doing.

Chrissie Bailey chrissieannbailey@gmail.com is logging what our clubs are doing so please let her know how you are meeting and what projects you are undertaking. Or of course you could post your projects on Rotary Showcase and log effort in Rotary Club Central – all available from your MyRotary account.

Whilst we are busy helping our local communities, spare a thought for other poor parts of the world such as Nepal, Syria and Yemen where there are no local resources.

Mental health.

This is becoming increasingly an issue as people try to cope with the lock down environment. Please help Mind, Samaritans and Citizens Advice Bureaux if you can.

Online website training.

Whilst many of us are at home most of the time, Chris Sweeney thought it would be a good opportunity to provide some online website training to fellow club and district administrators,
He proposes to run a series of 30-minute sessions, at 2pm Monday-Friday, for the week commencing 13th April. Members need not attend all sessions but pick and choose relevant topics. He would like to receive suggestions for topics from Rotarians over the next week. Please email him direct (rotary@121technology.com) with details of topics you’d like covered. The sessions will take place using Zoom software.

On a positive note.

Members are now using modern technology. One of my personal objectives this year was to “Update Rotary” and many clubs are now using modern technology and social media to communicate and hold meeting.

Meetings held via Zoom or WhatsApp mean there are no costs involved for members and people from all over the world can join in or be the speaker. One club recently had the RI President Mark Maloney as speaker. Rotary truly does Connect the World. The “saved” meal costs can then be used to support local food banks and other local charities that are in much demand in the current circumstances.

Best wishes and stay safe. Dennis

DG’s Blog 30 March 2020

Community support.

I am receiving reports that clubs are helping their communities wherever they can. I know that Taunton Vale are helping their local Halcon community with food and many other clubs are supporting their local food banks. Donating the cost of forgone Rotary meals to local food banks is an ideal way to support your local community. Other clubs doing similar things that I am aware of include Frome, Frome Town and Yeo Vale. There is a small amount of District Grant DDF still available which may be used in helping local food banks. It will be allocated on a first come basis so if you would like to augment your donations please contact Stan Jones.

Penny Underwood receiving her Paul Harris Fellowship certificate that was awarded virtually at the Forum.


The Emergency Volunteer Action Group is on a second-degree standby with a possibility of a call for help from the authorities, along with other voluntary organisations. In the meantime, many Clubs are operating successfully in providing support at local level. Clubs which are seeking the route to providing local support could access http://www.somersetprepared.org.uk and find the link to SPARK. (EVAG is represented on 2 committees of Somerset Prepared). Dorset: access http://www.dorsetprepared.org.uk and follow the ‘Community Involvement’ tab. If you have any queries, contact – David Welch who will respond on behalf of EVAG. Dorset: Contact Joseph Swindell

Justin Sargent of Somerset Community Foundation has written.

“We have now launched our Somerset Coronavirus Appeal and it would be great if Rotary Clubs felt able to support this. As you will appreciate local charities and community organisations are needed more than ever. They know where the most vulnerable are in their communities and can help ensure the right support reaches them at the right time. Funding them while their own income sources are under strain will make a critical difference. (I recognise that the District covers other areas outside of Somerset, but our neighbouring CFs will also be running funds).

In terms of practical support, I imagine by now your members will also be aware of local grassroots action taking place and tapped into that. We would certainly welcome being made aware of opportunities to use funding to support effective initiatives run by local charities and community organisations (although we are not yet seeking unsolicited applications until sufficient funds are in place).” See https://www.somersetcf.org.uk/

RYLA Report.

There is an excellent report by John Mander on this year’s RYLA on the Circa 1200 online magazine. See https://circa1200.wordpress.com/category/district-news/


Unfortunately, Somerton & District inauguration has been delayed for three months. We are all looking forward to this event.

International Humanitarian Service.

Whilst we are all in lock down there is still a need for Rotary works to carry on.

Shelter box appeal for Syria. See https://www.shelterbox.org/

Food Plant Solutions Rotary Action Group (FPSRAG) has been asked to provide educational materials for families in Cambodia, Cameroon, Uganda, Nepal, Tanzania, Vietnam and Ethiopia, to enable them to assist their communities to develop gardens to tackle malnutrition and ensure food security. To do this the FPSRAG need assistance from clubs to raise about $48,000 in total. For more information go to https://foodplantsolutions.org/

Zoom tips.

I know many of you are using Zoom to continue to hold meetings. Meetings for up to 40 minutes for up to 100 attendees are free. Find out more from http://www.zoom.us. We have been using this software in the District for the last couple of years. One tip is to use the Personal ID meeting number when calling meetings, this means that the attendees who have downloaded the app will be able to join by clicking on the list of previous meetings.

Best wishes and stay safe, Dennis

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