Katie Appleyard a volunteer from Cramlington Voluntary Youth  Project

Three cheers for Northumberland’s volunteers

To mark National Volunteer Week (1 - 7 June), Northumberland County Council is issuing an extra special thank you to all the amazing volunteers who have given up their time to help local people and who continue to step up on a daily basis, to help those in need.

Volunteers have always played an important role in Northumberland community life, but during  the coronavirus pandemic the response from residents and businesses in Northumberland has been nothing short of incredible, with communities coming together to support those most in need and at risk. 

The county’s voluntary and community organisations, town and parish councils, foodbanks,  local charities and residents have rallied their support, with many more new networks and groups being set up to support vulnerable residents through this difficult time. 

Leader of Northumberland County Council, Peter Jackson said:
“ Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, we’ve seen a phenomenal outpouring of community spirit across Northumberland. We know hundreds of residents have been helping out their neighbours, either independently or through local community groups or charities. 

“This pandemic has brought devastation to so many families and caused all sorts of challenges across the county. However, it has also brought out the best in our community spirit with so many  selfless acts which show how much our residents care for others. My sincere thanks go to everyone who has played a part in helping others.”

At the start of the pandemic,  to support the county’s network of volunteers, the county council launched the Northumberland Communities Together hub (NCT), to make sure residents were kept safe and well throughout the crisis, and provide coordination to support the efforts of local volunteers. 

The team of volunteers working with Northumberland Communities Together have been supporting the county’s 18,200 shielded residents, reaching out to check that they have access to food, medication and a little bit of company. County council staff have also been supporting this work including delivering emergency bridge food parcels to 3,324 shielded residents. 

In addition volunteers across the county have delivered more than 2000 food parcels, carried out over 2000 shopping trips for people who are self- isolating and have picked up more than 1500 prescriptions across the county. Hundreds of community play packs and sports packs have also been delivered to vulnerable children and 10,000 telephone calls have been made and answered responding to lots of different needs from our communities.

These are just some examples of the support that is being given, but is just part of the picture as many residents are helping their friends and neighbours independently.

Northumberland County Councillor Cath Homer, Cabinet member with responsibility for arts, culture, leisure and tourism said : "I know how important volunteers are in making a real difference to the lives of others. It is at times like this when our communities really demonstrate their compassion for their neighbours, friends and families who all need help. 

"Some will be people who have been volunteering for some time while others will have gone the extra mile during this emergency - such as doing shopping, walking dogs, collecting medicine, providing vital assistance to our emergency workers, making PPE equipment or befriending someone over the phone.

"I would like to say a massive thank you to them all. Your efforts do not go unnoticed and are very much appreciated by us all, not just those you have reached out to."

Katie Appleyard a volunteer from Cramlington Voluntary Youth Project said “During this time, everyone wants to feel like they are doing something positive to contribute - especially when key workers are doing so much. When I deliver the shopping, it feels like I have done something to help. It is also lovely how happy and thankful people are when I pass on their items. I always leave with a huge smile on my face.”

If you are a volunteer or organisation that needs support, or an individual having a difficult time or struggling at the moment, please get in touch, on 01670 620015 between 9am to 6pm, seven days a week. Text relay service, sign translate and language translation available.
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