A Ludgershall woman has discussed how offering some excess dog food to the community quickly expanded into a major charity campaign.

Daniella Armstrong is the organiser of the Facebook group ‘Helping Friends and Fur Babies’, which offers a range of items and services for both animals and humans.

Initially, the 31-year-old was just aiming to give away some excess food she had for her dog, Dexter, but it soon snowballed into something much bigger.

“Within 24 hours, an elderly lady contacted me,” she told the Advertiser. “She is a 75-year-old who said she hadn’t eaten in three days. I reached out, and by the end of the day, she had more food than Tesco!”

Soon enough, another person messaged her, and another, with the group soon taking off. On Friday, October 30 alone, Daniella received 28 messages asking for support.

“I tell them all that I don’t want their story,” she said. “Everything sent to me is completely private. There’s no judgement, I just want to help them go to bed on a full stomach.”

Within days, the group had reached over 500 members, with requests coming in from as far away as Bournemouth. “I was surprised they’d heard of us,” said Daniella. “I thought there were lots of support groups.

“I think ours took off because we provide for both animals and humans, and we can deliver. However far we have to travel, we will. We can all put in a pound for fuel and that will cover it.”

The group now offers much more than just dog food. The group can offer hot meals, CV updates, hair appointments, clothing and baby products, as well as a range of pet foods from cats and fish to more exotic animals.

“I didn’t like having a freezer full of dead mice,” said Daniella, “but I did!”

Local businesses have been helping the group where they can, with support from local pet shops and the Co-op helping the group provide help to the community. Daniella has been critical of the government response being provided to the vulnerable so far.

“If the government won’t feed you, we will,” she said. “I understand people’s views, but no one goes out of their way to not feed their family. People not asking us for flat screen TVs, just pasta and rice. They just need help.

“I don’t care if I feed nine people who are scammers, but if there’s one who really needs it, that’s all that’s important.”

The group’s next big challenge is Christmas, where, depending on the restrictions, Daniella is hoping to support the lonely during the festive season, in addition to making boxes for families.

“I was naïve,” she said. “I thought no one was alone on Christmas, but I was wrong. I’ll be having lonely elderly people around to dinner on the day if I can.”

As the group gears up for lockdown, Daniella thanked everyone who had contributed to the group.

“All I do is organising,” she said. “Everybody else gives donations, time and money. It wouldn’t happen without them and gives me a bit of faith in humanity.”

Daniella took a day off from the group on Friday, but is now back organising. “I only meant to do it for a week!” she said. “Now it will be going for a lot longer.”