Man's genius idea lets elderly neighbours call for help while self-isolating

A UK man has been praised for creating a colour coding system that enables people in self-isolation due to coronavirus to call for help from the safety of their own home.

Retired pharmacist Stuart Newsome, 64, asked residents on his street in Ripon, North Yorkshire, to display either a green or red card in their front window depending on whether they required assistance.

Stuart on his daily walk to see if his neighbours' have placed a red card in their window. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle UK.

At least once a day, Stuart walks down his to see if any of the houses are displaying a red card.

Along with his wife Jane, 63, they have been bringing shopping, collecting medication or helping with transportation for individuals stuck inside.

Stuart thought of the idea after visiting his 89-year-old mother-in-law, who does not have access to the internet.

“It was just about this community. Not everybody has the technology to stay in touch and a new bit of tech could be quite worrying for older people,” he said.

“The red and green card idea was just a very simple message about raising awareness. We don’t know everyone’s phone number on the street so this worked instead.”

He delivered a letter to each of the 39 houses on his road, with two pieces of coloured card and a note explaining the idea.

Community spirit

Stuart and Jane responded to their first red card last week when a pensioner who lives on her own needed groceries while she self-isolates.

“My wife was able to do some emergency shopping for a woman who lived alone and needed some supplies,” he said.

“She was very grateful. She was quite mindful of strangers at the door but my wife did some shopping for her which was mainly about feeding her cats. She was concerned for their welfare.”

A green card means that this neighbour doesn't need assistance. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle UK.

At the moment, three-quarters of the street are joining in with the scheme and putting the coloured cards in their windows.

The couple keeps themselves safe by leaving the shopping on the doorstep and making sure they stand six feet away from anyone they help.

“Each of us will respond in time if we see a red window. Our neighbour’s children walked to the end of the terrace and they came and knocked on our door and told me that everyone was green,” Stuart added.

“It is good to know we have already helped someone. It has already been worthwhile.”

A helping hand

Andrew Proud, 69, and his wife Wendy, 67, live on Stuart’s street and are self-isolating after suffering from a fever and a dry cough.

“I am struggling with coronavirus myself at the moment so we have got a fortnight of not going out the house,” said Andrew, a retired NHS councillor.

“We got some shopping in before it started but if there’s something we need we know the neighbours can help us.

“They come and look in our window to see if there’s anything they can do. It will help, undoubtedly.”

Ted Bell, 73, a pastor at the local Ripon Community Church, also lives on the street with his wife Pamela, 63, and thinks the colour cards will really help their family.

He said: “Our street is a little bit remote anyway. We are about twenty minutes walk from a shop if you were to walk.

“Most people cannot even just pop to the corner shop. I think it is a good idea.

“We have a green card up at the moment because everything is alright.”

Additional reporting by Lauren Clark.

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