TOWNS and villages have been pulling together during the coronavirus crisis.

One such village is Orleton in north Herefordshire.

Like so many others, Orleton is made up of people who have lived there all their lives as well as relative newcomers.

The lockdown has strengthened the collective sense of community and increased connections between people who may not have known each other previously, encapsulating one of the benefits to emerge from the lockdown.

Neighbours, friends and volunteers are offering a huge amount of practical support by shopping and collecting prescriptions for people who are self-isolating, much of this co-ordinated through the Orleton Good Neighbour Scheme.

The village shop has also pulled out all the stops to help people, from taking telephone orders to organising deliveries to helping people who are self-isolating to use the Post Office facilities.

The Boot Inn village pub and the Orleton School Food Community Interest Company (which provides the meals at the school) are offering hot meals delivered to people’s doors (and beer, in the case of the pub).

This provides a welcome break from cooking both for those who are self-isolating and for those who are home-schooling. People from surrounding villages are also taking advantage of these offers.

People are making use of technologies new and old to stay connected. There are very active village social media sites (Facebook and Nextdoor) where people keep in touch, share news and help each other out.

A number of different groups around the village are keeping people connected with telephone calls and emails.

People routinely stop for socially distanced chats on their exercise walks to keep in touch and make sure others are okay.

Christians Together in Orleton is producing a weekly ‘Sunday Sheet’ with prayers and points for reflection, with circulation which extends beyond regular churchgoers.

The twice-weekly fun village quizzes are a high-point of the week for many.

Unable to meet in the village hall, quizzes are being posted on Wednesdays and Saturdays on the social media sites for people to try at home, with answers being posted a few hours later.

There always follows some friendly competitive banter about who did best with people of all ages taking part.

People of all ages from across the village have participated in a number of projects to stay busy, give their neighbours a reason to smile, and reinforce the sense of community. These have included Easter treats on the doorsteps of many of those living alone or self-isolating; spring window displays; and an Easter egg hunt of eggs displayed in people’s windows for children to count on their daily exercise walks.

Orleton WI members, have also busied themselves making 159 scrubs bags - an amazing total from a small group of ladies and almost 10 per cent of the total taken to Hereford Hospital from WI House.

Most recently, there was a collective effort to create a ‘flower show’ at the War Memorial to commemorate VE Day.

People from around the village made flowers from odds and ends around their homes, creating a vibrant display which has been shared on social media and appreciated by those who are self-isolating as well as passers-by out for their daily exercise.