Chris Hailey-Norris could not speak more plainly when he describes working at Selby District Association of Voluntary Service as being “more than a job, it’s a vocation, a passion”.

With around 400 groups and organisations in the district that could call upon the Association of Voluntary Service for assistance, that level of commitment must be a bonus.

Chris is the chief officer and although he has a history with Selby District Association of Voluntary Service dating back three decades, his current involvement started in 2009 with six days of consultancy work.

He never left and now heads a team that provides a diverse range of help for organisations and individuals across the district.

They operate two community buildings that provide a base for many varied organisations, but also offer a huge range of support in areas from finding funding to working with volunteers.

Selby District Association of Voluntary Service itself runs services vital to the communities that make up the Selby district, including a community transport scheme with volunteer drivers, allowing people to make journeys that would not be viable on public transport.

It also hosts a community fridge, working with supermarkets to prevent food wastage by re-distributing it to both those in financial hardship or with environmental concerns.

One-to-one sessions are also available for those who need help in areas including finances, mental health and finding work.

“We consulted over 800 residents regarding their needs as we came out of Covid – a key priority was around fitness, so we now provide a free weekly session. It is a great way of engaging with people,” said Mr Hailey-Norris.

“There is a lot going off and that is how we love it. We are full of enthusiasm and enjoy making a positive difference.”

Selby District Association of Voluntary Service was an obvious choice when we wanted to set up a network of partnerships to keep residents safe when Covid-19 struck, with the lockdowns that followed.

They still take hundreds of enquiries each week but expect the burden to shift to people needing help as the economic crisis bites harder this autumn.

“We are trying to offer people practical support and solutions,” said Mr Hailey-Norris.

“I love Selby, I love the people, the energy, and the can-do attitude. It is a joy to work here. There is a family feel as we work together with the community.”

Using organisations like Selby District Association of Voluntary Service as community support organisations show “phenomenal vision” from the county council, he said.

He believes the same strong relationship will continue when the county council and Selby District Council merge into the one new North Yorkshire Council in April next year.

Anyone in the district needing help with a problem, or with questions, or wanting to make a difference in their community is welcome to contact Selby District Association of Voluntary Service by telephone on 01757 291111.