Meet the fantastic four making such a difference in their community

We continue to celebrate acts of kindness across the county in our #SaltOfTheEarth campaign, which we are running with local media.

In a time when we’ve been forced to shut ourselves away in our homes, there are those who have looked for ways to bring people together and fight isolation.

With a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, people are being encouraged to keep checking on friends or neighbours who might need a helping hand with shopping; collecting medication; or simply being there for a chat. We want to make sure everyone stays safe, so find advice on how to help safely.

In Briercliffe, Scarborough, the workers and volunteers at Gallows Close Centre put measures in place to help alleviate the boredom caused by lockdown and make sure nobody slipped through the net.

Community development worker Kimmie Avison runs the centre alongside café manager Kendra Davies.

In more normal times, the pair are ably assisted by a team of around 15 volunteers, who between them give 144 hours of their time each week to provide a wide range of activities.

When lockdown hit, most of the volunteers had to shield or stay home to look after younger family members and Kimmie found her team of 17 reduced to four, with volunteers Nicky Pattison and Kevin Coyne helping throughout.

Between them, Kimmie, Kendra, Nicky and Kevin have put on a variety of activities for the local community, including activities for young people, sports sessions and even a rap session encouraging youngsters to explore their feelings about lockdown with the team from Sidewalk.

Supported by grants from the Two Ridings Community Fund, the help they have been able to offer the community has been vital. Kimmie said: “We closed our doors on March 18 for a week to look at things we could do.

“I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise myself or the volunteers and had to make sure that what we did was safe. I’ve had three main volunteers who have worked absolutely brilliantly since we closed our doors.

“Kendra Davies, known by many as Mama Kendra, has been my right hand woman, she’s been by my side all the way.

“Nicky Pattison has been helping with food parcel deliveries, making craft packs and helped out with the cafe, manning the desk at the entrance for take-out orders.

“Kevin Coyne, Nicky’s other half, looks after the community garden and makes sure there is fruit and veg to sell in the cafe.

“We’ve done one heck of a lot with a team of four people.”

Veronica Pace, who lives on Briercliffe, said: “I run zumba once a fortnight for people with special educational needs.

“Kimmie helped me through the pandemic when I couldn't earn anything. Kimmie just turned up with the real necessities.

“She set up a school uniform swap for those too shy to ask. It’s hard as a mother of six, four of whom need uniform.

“I didn’t have any wages coming in and without Gallows I don’t know what would have happened.”

Kendra added: “When I first started coming to Gallows, I didn’t like to leave the house, I’m agoraphobic. My son went to a club and Kimmie kept asking me to volunteer or join classes.

“It really started when I made a cake at Easter and helped out at a fun day, now I’m never far away.

“I still have to force myself to go out, but going to Gallows is easy.”

Volunteer Nicky Pattison said: “I went back in during lockdown to help with the cafe and to make the craft bags.

“It’s nice to see the smile you can put on people’s faces with just a little gesture. Anything I can do to help support the local area, I’ll be there.”

Local resident Kim Kilvington said: “They really made a difference. When everybody went out and bought all the self-raising flour and caster sugar at the start of lockdown, I couldn’t get the ingredients to make my son a birthday cake. Thanks to them, my son, Oliver, got his ninth birthday cake.

People who are self-isolating and need support with shopping, prescriptions and other essentials but don’t have anyone to call on, or anyone concerned about the welfare of someone else, can contact the County Council’s customer service centre on 01609 780780. The centre is open seven days a week 8am to 5.30pm. Find more information.

Do you know someone who makes a difference

If you know someone who is the #SaltOfTheEarth and makes a difference in your community, we want to hear about them. Email SaltOfTheEarth@northyorks.gov.uk with your nomination.