Meet the family whose volunteer efforts helped keep a village running

Members of a family in a North Yorkshire village have worked together to help their community by each volunteering to keep a vital service on its feet.

Jack and Luke Greenslade

Luke Greenslade, 17, opened the local shop in West Burton every day during the pandemic to make sure that members of the community had access to food.

Aided by his brother Jack, 18, they kept the amenity going with not one day closed – Jack didn’t really help in the shop but was more “hands on” at home helping with the community fruit and veg orders.

Jack also helped his mum, Julie, to co-ordinate a shopping delivery service around villages from West Burton up to Gayle, along with helping to deliver papers from the shop.

The shop was previously kept open by an elderly member of the West Burton community, but when Covid-19 hit the community became concerned about her health.

The owner of the shop doesn’t live locally, so Luke stepped into the role. He opened up the West Burton Village Shop every morning, with Jack, 18, helping at the weekend, too.

Luke said: “I decided to help as I realised the majority of the village were high-risk individuals that, unless the shop was open, would find it difficult to get essentials such as bread, milk and eggs.

“I didn’t find it difficult to find the motivation to do it as I saw how important it could turn out to be for others.

“I did 107 consecutive days running the shop and delivering newspapers on weekdays before the shop was due to open and a friend of mine helped delivering newspapers on the weekend, too.”

Luke added he has lived in the village for 13 years now and says it’s “lovely”.

He is about to go into his second year at college in Darlington, studying sport and leisure and travel and tourism.

Jack decided to help the volunteer efforts after his mum, Julie, arranged food deliveries for the village.

He said: “I decided to help because my mum was struggling with the sheer volume of grocery deliveries she had to organise, which meant gathering the list of items, weighing each one, ensuring the price was correct and then the actual delivery.

“I only helped a little bit by accompanying my mum on delivery runs and putting the ingredients in the right boxes.

“I found the motivation to help my mum – she works really hard in about three or four different jobs and the shopping was just another thing for her to do. She likes to crack on and pretend she can manage, but sometimes I know she needs a bit of help!

“Our community has a lot of vulnerable elderly people who might be susceptible to the virus.

“I want to say, though, even if I did help, many more people in the community have also gone out of their way to lend a hand!”

Jack is planning on heading to university to do a degree in Music.

Julie, a project co-ordinator for A Good Life, part of the Upper Dales Community Partnership, one of the CSOs helping the community through lockdown, said: “I’m incredibly proud of both Luke and Jack. For a 17 and 18-year-old to pick this up, it’s incredible.

“We have a lot of young people who have helped out in the community, but that’s just what the Dales is all about. When you live somewhere rural, it’s even more important to stick together as a community and that’s exactly what we’ve done.

“The new owners of the village shop are in now and we wish them a warm welcome and hope they will be happy living in the Dales. During lockdown we’ve not had one day that it hasn’t been open thanks to Luke and Jack.”

North Yorkshire County Council has worked with 23 Community Support Organisations throughout lockdown to co-ordinate volunteer efforts in localities across the county.

As lockdown begins to lift, these teams of dedicated volunteers are still there to help anyone who needs it get back out into the community – whether it’s shopping, helping with errands or simply a friendly face.

Gary Fielding, Corporate Director for Strategic Resources, said: “The community spirit and will to help other people from Luke and his family is fantastic and embodies the sort of attitude we’ve seen county-wide during Covid-19.

“Even though lockdown is lifting and things are getting back to normal, support is still there in every community where it’s needed.

“The effort put in by an army of volunteers – whether that’s putting in time with a community organisation, or simply checking on a neighbour, friend or family member – has kept North Yorkshire going through these unprecedented times.”

This story was published 1 September 2020