THE coronavirus outbreak has prompted a Weymouth woman to set up a group on social media where people can offer food donations and support.

Mum-of-four Natalie Williams, 29, said she started the 'Helping people around Weymouth and Portland and Dorchester 2020' Facebook group after being "shocked" by the sight of empty shelves during a recent shopping trip.

"It made me realise how many people must be without food," said Natalie, who lives at Preston Downs.

"I'm currently on maternity leave with a three month old – normally I'm a carer and a hairdresser but as I can't go to work, I wanted to find another way to help people.

"Everyone's panicking about coronavirus coming to Dorset. I have quite a few elderly neighbours; I popped a note through people's doors offering to help, and several people have rung me up since.

"I set the Facebook group up on Saturday and there's been a huge response – almost 900 people have joined already. It's about everyone in the community coming together to help each other instead of being against each other.

"People have already been coming forward to offer support, and I also had a private message from a woman who said she's really struggling, so I've been round with a food parcel.

"It's about people doing nice things for each other, for those people who are unable to stockpile food, can't buy what they need because shops are empty, or aren't working because of the virus and can't afford to buy things.

"People can post on the group if there's something they need, or if they want to offer help to people, they can let them know and give and take."

"At the end of the day we all need to come together instead of fighting over toilet roll."

There has been a strong show of community support in response to the outbreak.

In Dorchester, a community kitchen has been set up to provide food parcels, and a university student is offering to deliver essentials to those who are self-isolating.

To find the group search Facebook for 'Helping people around Weymouth and Portland and Dorchester 2020'

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