North Yorkshire residents who are making the first steps to achieve some independence after being supported during coronavirus are being reassured that help is available to do so.
With the infection rate on the decline, many people who have spent months self-isolating and shielding now need a helping hand with transitioning back into everyday activities.
Since March the County Council has been working alongside 23 community organisations and the district councils across North Yorkshire to coordinate the voluntary sector network in each locality, providing a safety net of support.
The Council will continue to work with community partners to help those who have been shielding to transition back into normal activities such as seeing family and friends, shopping and going to the hairdressers. It will also carry on supporting those choosing to continue limiting their contact who will still need help getting food and medication.
Hambleton Community Action is currently acting as the Covid-19 Community Support Organisation for the Northallerton, Bedale and surrounding areas. Volunteers have adapted services to help those who feel ready to start venturing out.
Chief Officer Liz Lockey said: “There’s been much talk about mental health but we have to remember that a lot of shielded people are elderly and have problems with their mobility. After months of staying indoors many have lost the confidence to go out. Our aim is to give people their independence back.
“We have been visiting people in their gardens or in groups of up to six at the park where everybody brings their own chairs and picnic. One lady was accompanied to walk up and down Northallerton high street after her doctor’s appointment to see how it had changed so she would have the confidence to go out on her own.
“With lockdown easing volunteers are busy providing transport for hairdressing appointments and accompanying people shopping for the first time in months. We’ve had a few people tell us how they have missed going to the beach so hopefully we can soon offer day trips again.”
These hubs have been a single point of contact within the community for those in need of help, pulling together other organisations in the area.
There are also countless examples of neighbours looking out for each other and an army of volunteers who have formed groups where they live.
Marie-Ann Jackson, the County Council’s Head of Stronger Communities, said: “More than 1,500 volunteers have been helping thousands of people every week with shopping, collecting prescriptions or just having someone to talk to as part of our Team North Yorkshire effort to provide a safety net of support.
“These volunteers are now being called on to help those who have been shielding to transition back into normal activities such as seeing family and friends, shopping and going to the hairdressers.
“We recognise that there are those choosing to continue limiting their contact who still need help getting food and medication. We want to remind these people that whilst there is a need we will be there with partners to help.”
Those who don’t have anyone to call on for help while they are self-isolating can contact North Yorkshire County Council’s customer service centre on 01609 780780 seven days a week 8am to 5.30pm.