RTBI’s geographical landscape has changed over time. You might have imagined that COVID and Lockdown would have had a devastating impact on membership and activity but this has been anything but true in many areas. In speaking with different Tablers the needs and challenges that COVID represented seems to have spurred more people to get involved and to make a difference.
I spoke with Colin Devitt who at the beginning of COVID was feeling the impact of Lockdown and thinking that getting involved in something locally would be a good idea. He knew the then Chairman of Deesside Round Table who invited him along to a Beer Tasting session on Zoom and he decided to give it a go. “I didn’t know a lot about Round Table, but it seemed to be a lot about friendship and getting on and doing things to help people and that appealed to me”.
David took part in a few of the zoom “Get Togethers” but it was in supporting his community and being part of a team delivering care and support packages to local people that he really felt he was contributing and most enjoying himself. There were various phases as restrictions changed. Early on the focus was more on the older people, getting their shopping in and making sure they had what they needed. During the summer of 2020, very much inspired by the Marcus Rashford’s campaign, highlighting how tough it was for many families to feed their children and themselves the Table expanded their work and contacted local business and supermarkets starting to offer food and emergency support packages to local families. “We were fortunate in that Wales kept their commitment to the children who would have received free school meals and continued that support through the summer holidays, but we knew from our own members, some of them teachers, that the need ran deeper and wider than the Welsh government were able to respond to.”
“Iceland who have their headquarters nearby were amazing, giving us over 1,500 ready meals along with other food, the other supermarkets joined in and offered as much support as they could and we in turn went about distributing it to those most in need. It was tough but incredibly gratifying. We knew these families and individuals were really having tough times and it was so lovely to be able to support them and see how much they appreciated what we were doing.”
When Christmas 2020 came around the picture was different again but we made a big push to support older folk and households struggling to bring Christmas together. On the 21st of December, just before Wales went into its next lock down, we delivered full Christmas Dinner ingredients to over 50 homes followed by another local guy bringing all kinds of gifts to complete the day. Logistically it was a real challenge, as we worked with social services and a local charity called Homestart to identify those most in need and then worked to ensure each delivery had every bit of Christmas Dinner in it, from Turkey Crown to Pigs in Blankets, from Christmas Pudding to the custard it was everything and the trimmings!”
Over the entire and intensive period of COVID the two Tables worked together to help over 120 households make it through and formed a whole range of wonderful new friendships, recognised in their communities for being there no matter what. Masked and physically distant but in real terms incredibly close to their communities throughout.
But the story doesn't end there. One of the recipients of support from the Table became aware of an upcoming New Members Night for the newly charted Mold and Buckley Round Table. She was a mother who had seen the kindness and friendliness of the guys who had supported her and her family through lockdown and who thought their organisation, the Round Table, could be just what her son needed. “She got in touch with us explaining that coming out of lockdown she thought her son could really benefit from being more active and building friendships. She explained that he hadn’t had such a good time at school and had found some situations extra difficult as he also has Asperger’s Syndrome. It was a no brainer and with encouragement Sean came along to that first evening in the local pub.
“I had no idea what I was getting into when I first got involved but I can honestly say that I have loved every minute of the last two years of being involved with Table and particularly Christmas 2020, even in the worst of the pandemic and through all the hardship, helping those individuals and families, delivering amazing Christmas Dinners and seeing their responses and their appreciation, being with other Tablers and sharing the highs and lows was probably the best thing I have ever done.”
Deeside and an embryonic Mold and Buckley Table (Buckley is where David lives and was without its own Table at that point) led across a range of activities during the worst of the pandemic period and Mold and Buckley is now a new chartered Table Number 399!
Round Table (RTBI) is a national association of local young man / men's club for those aged between 18 and 45. RTBI supports charities, the local community and its individual members through friendship and brotherhood. As part of the Round Table Family, RTBI is an inclusive organisation open to all individuals no matter their age or gender identification. To find out more visit our FAQs page or Contact Us.