Man creates window colour coding system that lets people self-isolating tell neighbours if they need supplies

A man has been praised for creating a colour coding system that enables people self-isolating who need supplies to let others know from the safety of their own window.

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

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

He walks down his road in Ripon in North Yorkshire every day to identify if any of the houses are displaying a red card.

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

He said: "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.

“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.

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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.”

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

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

Stuart added: “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.

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

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.

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

“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 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.”