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Coronavirus Kent: Maidstone man forced to break self-isolation to buy food

A man fears he will run out of food and essential supplies after being told he must self-isolate.

John Bottomley, from Maidstone, has Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and the medication he takes suppresses his immune system. This means he is at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

John Bottomley had to leave his house to get food even though he is classed as extremely vulnerable
John Bottomley had to leave his house to get food even though he is classed as extremely vulnerable

So the government has advised Mr Bottomley to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks.

But, after complying for several days, the 61-year-old found himself running very low on food, hygiene products and toilet paper.

Mr Bottomley, who lives alone in Tonbridge Road, spent two days trying to get on Sainsbury's vulnerable customers list, but, despite calling many times, had no luck getting through.

He checked supermarket home delivery slots but none were available for several weeks.

Feeling he had no one else to call for help, Mr Bottomley, who normally works as an usher at Maidstone Crown Court, was forced to venture out to the shops.

"It could end up that I don't die of coronavirus, but I die of hunger..."

He said: "I was extremely nervous about doing this. I had thought about it a few times over the past two days but kept telling myself no. But then things got so desperate so I thought, 'I've got to do something'."

Mr Bottomley tried Sainsbury's first, but the queue wound right round the car park so he went to Tesco Express in Hermitage Lane instead.

With limited offerings, Mr Bottomley bought a ready meal, pizza and a few other bits but could not find any toilet paper.

The branch on Tonbridge Road was out of stock too.

When he returned home, he looked online for toilet paper, being as he only had one roll left, but delivery times were all in April.

Mr Bottomley said: "Luckily, a man who I know from the pub dropped off a pack of four toilet rolls which was very nice of him but I wouldn't want to bother him and ask again.

"But it could end up that I don't die of coronavirus, but I die of hunger!"

He has since received another message from the government with a link to website offering information to those who are extremely vulnerable and has joined several Facebook community groups which have been set up across Kent to help those who are not able to leave the house.

Maidstone Borough Council has now also started initiative which will see free food boxes delivered to the most vulnerable during the pandemic.

Read more: All the latest coronavirus news

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone


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