Volunteers have come forward in their thousands to help those in need across the county since the start of the pandemic. Yet some organisations have existed thanks to the work of their generous volunteers for many decades.
One area where people have happily been donating their time is community transport. Community transport providers help people to get out and about, access services and see friends and family.
One such organisation is Boroughbridge Community Care (BCC), which has been providing transport for the people of Boroughbridge since 1974.
In normal times, BCC would take people on days out to the coast, the theatre and many other places of interest. However, when lockdown came into force, all day trips came to an abrupt halt.
The team evaluated what they could do to continue offering transport to medical appointments. Karen Parker, general manager at the charity, said: “We installed screens around drivers and gave them full PPE, including face shields, masks and hand sanitisers.”
When Covid vaccinations began, the organisation linked up with Church Lane doctor’s surgery to ensure those offered vaccinations were able to get there.
Karen said: “Normally we have 100-plus volunteers, but when lockdown came, all volunteers over 70 were stood down.
“It brought in a much younger demographic and I think we will retain a lot of those. They are finding it really rewarding.”
Nic Holmes, from Upper Dunsforth, has been a volunteer for six years and a trustee for four. He drives both the minibus and his own car.
Nic, 61, said the decision to get involved came out of the blue: “Very simply, I saw a poster outside Morrisons looking for minibus drivers and I’ve been doing it ever since.
“In normal times, I’ve taken the minibus to Lindisfarne, Whitby, Skegness, Holy Island. These day trips are usually for the elderly with no other form of transport. Most of the enjoyment seems to be sitting on the bus with their mates.
“We are massively dependent on volunteers, they are very important to keep organisations like ours going.”
Phill Brownley, started as a volunteer back in 2018 when he moved from Harrogate to Boroughbridge.
Phill, 66, said: “I’d got some free time and I wanted to do something with it for the community. It’s a door-to-door service and it’s brilliant to know you can help your own neighbour.
Mark Bailey, 57, explained what the role entails: “It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be a BCC volunteer car and community minibus driver. I see it as doing my small bit to help the predominantly older members of our local community
“I travel to hospitals in Harrogate,York, Ripon and Leeds, taking people for hospital appointments, Covid tests and jabs.
“I’ve met some fascinating people. A former jockey/racehorse trainer, a bank manager, a head gardener, a nurse and a CEO of a charity.”
Clive Wilson, 89, lives in Kirby Hill near Boroughbridge. A former volunteer driver himself, he knows first-hand the value of the service the charity provides.
Clive said: “I go to York Hospital for treatment for macular degeneration and they literally take me from front door to front door. It is a superb service and we are so lucky to have it in Boroughbridge.”
Maggie Fink, 86, who lives in Boroughbridge, used to go on the various day trips BCC offered.
The service allows her to maintain her independence. She said: “I’ve had several appointments during lockdown. They pick me up, wait for me until the appointment is finished and take me home again. I think they are very special.”
On the coast, Scarborough based Dial A Ride has been operating in the town for almost 40 years.
The service began in 1983 as part of a project for the Scarborough District Voluntary service and in 1994 became an independent charity.
Service manager Julie Banks joined initially as an admin assistant and has been with the organisation for more than 26 years. She has seen a number of changes in that time, but none as challenging as the last 12 months.
Julie said: “We are centred around Covid at the moment. We quickly adapted to operate safely. When Covid hit, we lost 75 per cent of our volunteers due to shielding, but then the number of journeys dropped off the edge of a cliff as well.
“We spent a lot of money on sanitising equipment and invested very early on in a fogging machine.
“We are still taking people to most things, the ones with no family to rely on.
“When we’re taking people for jabs, for some of them it’s the only time they have been out in a year.
“Some of our volunteers have been with us for 10, 12 or even 18 years, so we must be doing something right.”
Tony Kirby has volunteered with Dial A Ride for more than six years.
He said: “One day I just walked into the place, why or how I don’t know. I said I’d like to volunteer, I got into it and I love it.
“It structures your week. Through Covid, it has been absolutely brilliant not to be sat in the house. It’s something to get up and get out for. I love doing my bit.
Bob Monaghan signed up after retiring in 2008. After a year of doing jobs around the house, he began to get bored and looked for something else to do.
He said: “As luck would have it, I saw Dial A Ride advertising in the paper. I enjoy meeting people, it’s as good for me as it is for them. I get so much pleasure and goodness out of it for myself, I like doing it.”
Bill Scott and his wife, Anne, are regular users of the service.
Mr Scott said: “I’m 88 and my wife is 80 and we’re both in fragile health. We can still walk, but not far. We usually use them for medical reasons, such as going to the surgery or hospital in York.
“Very occasionally we take a trip to the supermarket or go up to Seamer to see our disabled son.
“They are always on time and all have comical approaches to life. You get some banter.
“Occasionally they might pick up another passenger and you might have to go another route and you see part of Scarborough you’ve not seen before.
“I had been having to visit the eye clinic at Scarborough Hospital and then I was transferred to York, because they have a better eye department and expertise.
“Dial A Ride was thankfully able to take me there. Originally, my wife would help me along, but during the pandemic she wasn’t allowed in York Hospital. The drivers and assistants were very, very good. They accompanied me and ensured I didn’t have any problems. They are always waiting for me when I come out. I’m extremely grateful for that.
“My wife uses them for the doctor’s surgery and Bridlington Hospital and Dial A Ride came again like the cavalry coming over the hill to support us.
“I don’t know what we would have done without Dial A Ride. I often wonder to be honest, we couldn’t do it without them.”
If you’re supporting someone in your community during the Covid pandemic, thank you. You are making a big difference in these challenging times.”
If you would like to get involved, you can find advice about how to help safely and discover links to the many volunteering opportunities around the county.