Hundreds of volunteers offering help and hope to self-isolating neighbours in Harrogate

Councils have begun harnessing the enthusiasm of hundreds of volunteers to start delivering emergency supplies to those in self-isolation.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 1:41 pm
Updated Friday, 27th March 2020, 1:44 pm

North Yorkshire County Council is spearheading the huge logistical challenge of coordinating the region's community response to the coronavirus crisis which has forced thousands of vulnerable residents to stay at home for the next 12 weeks.

And whilst most people are allowed outside for "essential" journeys only - the authority is working with district councils and 23 community groups to deliver food and medical supplies to those who cannot risk leaving their homes.

Hundreds of volunteers will deliver supplies to those in self-isolation. Photo: NYCC.

Council leader Carl Les said: "We have a massive task ahead of us and we do not underestimate the challenges or the complexities of what we face.

"These are unprecedented times for all of us and so it is critical that we do even more to pull together in the right way to get through this crisis.

He added: “We want to make it clear that people first and foremost should turn to family, neighbours and friends for help with things like getting in groceries or collecting medication or in delivering a hot meal.

“If this network is not available to them we would then ask them to make contact with church organisations, clubs, voluntary sector organisations they are supported by or societies they belong to.

"But North Yorkshire is known for its great spirit of generosity so that for those with no immediate network of support, we are working with district council colleagues and selected community organisations to deliver that support in their local area.”

The Community Support Organisations will collect and deliver shopping, as well as medical prescriptions.

They are also offering to care for pets and deliver books and magazines, or any materials to support hobbies like knitting or painting.

And when they are not dropping off supplies, they will be in contact with those in self-isolation via telephone, FaceTime or Skype to make sure they are okay.

But the council is also urging people to think about their neighbours who they themselves can help before volunteers need to step in.

Coun Les said: “We don’t want volunteers travelling long distances to help out.

“They need to remain within their local area. Nor do we want them to put themselves or others in personal jeopardy. Like all of us, volunteers must follow the Government’s safety guidance on keeping a two metre distance from people and the regular washing of hands.

“If volunteers have specific or specialist skills to offer, again they should be in contact with local groups. They can also contact the county council customer service centre which can direct them to their local community support organisation which can process their offer of help.

“The biggest help is maintaining contact with people who are alone and isolate.

“We will be looking for volunteers above all who will be able to ring people up and chat with them.

“We want the community response across North Yorkshire to be as coordinated and effective as possible and one which observes the government’s strict guidance on coronavirus."

People needing help can contact the council's customer service centre on 01609 780780.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter