An army of volunteers across North Yorkshire are being thanked for their tremendous resilience and community spirit during the Covid-19 pandemic with a series of events across the county.
Since the first lockdown in March 2020, thousands of residents have helped to keep people safe and vital services going throughout the pandemic.
For the many people who found themselves needing help, community support organisations and the voluntary groups they have worked alongside have offered a safety net of support to many.
Since last March, community support organisation volunteers have given more than 160,000 hours of their time, providing a lifeline for people without family, friends or neighbours to lean on.
Volunteers have helped with shopping, collecting medication, walking pets, taking people to medical appointments and being there for a friendly chat. Volunteers have also been crucial in the rollout of the vaccination programme. As restrictions have eased, community support organisation volunteers have been helping people return to normal life and gradually build their confidence as we learn to live with Covid.
To thank volunteers involved in the Covid response more formally, community support organisations up and down the county have been hosting celebration events with help from our stronger communities team.
From picnics to afternoon teas, garden parties and a mini festival, what the events have all had in common is the opportunity for the council and other partners to thank volunteers for their ongoing commitment.
Volunteers who support other council services such as libraries, waste prevention and countryside access were also invited.
Chairman County Councillor Stuart Martin attended several of events, with the last few planned for November.
Cllr Martin said: “There are so many community groups that have contributed so much during the pandemic, be it visiting people, befriending people over the telephone, taking them shopping, providing them with meals.
“It’s such a vital service. I know first-hand the benefit of this sort of support. Early in the pandemic my wife April suffered with Covid-19 and was seriously ill in hospital for a number of days. When she came out, we were recipients of the kindness that’s been shown across the county. Often we’d come to the front door and there would be a meal waiting for us, all prepared, just needed heating up.
“You can’t underestimate the value and what that means to the individual that’s receiving that friendship and voluntary help. It means such a lot. So I want to thank every community group. Don’t ever underestimate the value of your support. Whether you give one hour a month or 100 hours a month. It’s all vital to the effort. So thank you.”
Chief Executive Richard Flinton added: “Throughout the pandemic, what has remained constant in North Yorkshire is the courage and kindness of volunteers and the incredible sense of community spirit.
“It has been really challenging for so many people in lots of different ways, but we can thank our communities and the people who are making a difference within them for helping to minimise the impact of coronavirus. They should feel proud, as I do, to be part of Team North Yorkshire.”