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Croydon Council’s Covid-19 food packages praised as ‘gold standard’ by self-isolating cancer patient

By Naomi Curston
April 11 2020, 13.05

A cancer sufferer who received a government food package praised Croydon Council’s ‘gold standard’ efficiency.

Carol Pitches, 58, is undergoing life-extending chemotherapy at the Royal Marsden Hospital and was forced to self-isolate to avoid the coronavirus.

She wanted people to realise that food packages were a necessity, not a luxury.

“I massively appreciate the fact that I am receiving something charitable from the council,” Ms Pitches said.

“I feel awful about having to accept it, because I would really rather pay for choice, but at the moment that opportunity is not afforded to me.”

Ms Pitches used to be a leadership development consultant and now voluntarily coaches NHS staff through this tough period.

She also participates in the Royal Marsden’s PIONEER study, which aims to reduce how many women get breast cancer, but it was suspended due to the virus.

Ms Pitches, who lives alone, asked a close friend to shop for her after she started isolating at the start of last month.

When shops reduced the number of items people could buy, that became impossible, as the friend also had to buy for her own elderly parents.

The government identified Ms Pitches as vulnerable via text on March 23, just a week before she got her package, which included fruit, pasta, tea and hotel-size shower gels.

After cleaning the packaging with anti-bac wipes, she gave whatever she didn’t need to an elderly neighbour who’d been missed.

However, the scheme showed the council in a more positive light for her.

“I’m not a big fan of Croydon Council,” Ms Pitches said.

“But literally, what they’re doing now, learn from it, because that could make Croydon Council gold standard, if that level of efficiency was rolled out across the board.”

The council’s delivery was timely because she has been unable to get a delivery slot with Waitrose for two weeks, despite her best efforts.

She was contacted by Tesco last Friday in regards to getting a delivery, but is yet to be given her slot.

On taking a risk and going out, she said: “We never know when we’re going to cough or sneeze, it’s not like we have any control over it, and that really frightens me.

“I know that sounds like it’s just the most stupid thing to worry about, but I think particularly when you’re vulnerable, you’re doing everything you can to improve the quality of your life, and this is an additional challenge.”

A Waitrose spokesperson said the Croydon store was working with police and local charities to help the most vulnerable, and that the supermarket firm had started a £1 million Community Support Fund and was donating £75,000 each to national charities helping the old and vulnerable.

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