“We need you now more than ever.” That is the message from North Yorkshire’s Chairman, Cllr Jim Clark, ahead of Volunteers Week (1 to 7 June).
Every year thousands of people from across the county offer their time, help and expertise to make the lives of other, often more vulnerable, people better.
In the past year, almost 6,000 people registered as volunteers in North Yorkshire in such areas as countryside services, youth justice, libraries, as school governors and many more besides.
Their contributions in such a large region are vital and no more so than at this time, with the nation still experiencing the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
In a joint effort with district councils, North Yorkshire has been working with 23 community organisations to match those without family, friends or neighbours to support from the voluntary sector. All this at a time when everyone is feeling the pressure of the lockdown.
Cllr Clark said: “Our volunteers do not seek thanks, but I think it is important that we express our gratitude for the selfless work that they do. Put simply, we could not offer the range of services we do without them.
“Community facilities such as libraries are dependent on our volunteers to help keep them running, something we are acutely aware of and very grateful for.”
Cllr Clark, himself a committed volunteer in his Harrogate community, vowed to spend his year of office getting out and about meeting people on the ground in every division of the county.
The Covid-19 restrictions have meant he has not been able to carry out his visits since March, but he recalls with fondness the people he had encountered up to this point at meetings across the county, including those at Scarborough, Harrogate and Northallerton.
“Throughout my year as Council Chairman, I have had the great privilege to meet many of these exceptional people, either as they carry out their work or at awards ceremonies,” he said.
“They range from primary school children to those in their 90s and all, in their own way, embody the very best of what North Yorkshire is about.”
Cllr Clark said, when the current crisis was under control, there would remain a need for people to help others and he wanted to encourage those who had volunteered in the past, were doing so now or had thought about it but not done so yet to either continue or take up the challenge.
“There is no doubt that we are going to need volunteers more than ever as we face an uncertain future,” he said.
“We cannot avoid the fact that many people are going to be in great difficulties, there will be mental health problems and other issues and our volunteers will be crucial in helping ensure they are looked after.”
An advice and information page has been created on the Council’s website for anyone interested in volunteering their time specifically to help with Covid-19 support initiatives.
Help could be offered:
- collecting and delivering shopping – leaving deliveries on the doorstep or safe place to avoid close physical contact
- collecting and delivering prescriptions from the pharmacy
- caring for pets
- delivering books and magazines or materials to support hobbies such as wool for knitting or art materials
- helping people find the latest information for help and support
- having a chat on the telephone or using things like FaceTime or Skype to reduce feelings of loneliness